by WALE IGBINTADE

A Lagos Federal High Court yesterday restrained President Goodluck Jonathan from assenting to the bill for an Act to amend the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act.justices-courts-law

Justice Saliu Saidu in a ruling also restrained the National Assembly, the Clerk of the National Assembly from forwarding the Bill for an Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority Act. Cap. 05 to President Jonathan for Assent.

The orders were sequel to a motion ex-parte, in a suit number FHC/L/CS/719/15, filed by Prof Olanrewaju Fagbohun, on behalf of Nigerdock Nigeria Limited, Simco Free Zone Company and Nigerdock Nigeria Plc-FZE (plaintiffs) respectively.

Besides, Justice Saidu also restrained the defendants their agents and privies from prohibiting the usage of the plaintiffs’ facilities at Snake Island Integrated Free Zone for Oil and Gas cargoes destined for use in the free zone.

The judge also restrained the National Assembly, its Clerk, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Minister of Transport, and the Nigeria Ports Authority.

In an affidavit deposed to by one Yusufu Abdullahi, a director of Simco Free Zone Company, the deponent averred that Nigerdock Nigeria Limited is a promoter of Snake Island Integrated Free Zone, SIIFZ, and that Simco is a company saddled with the responsibility to develop, market, manage, operate, and administer SIIFZ.

The deponent averred that SIIFZ was approved as approved as a privately owned and managed Free Zone by presidential declaration in January 2005, and was duly licensed by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA in April 2005. And that SIIFZ is operated by Simco Free Zone Company, under the direct supervision and monitoring of NEPZA.

He added that other regulatory agencies such as Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, and State Security Service, SSS, are present within SIIFZ to ensure due compliance with all laws and that appropriate security is maintained.

The deponent averred that Section 5(3) of the Bill seeks to expand the powers of OGFZA such that it can without further assurance take over and perform the functions hitherto performed by NEPZA.

He stated that the Bill did not define what constitutes “oil and gas related cargoes” and that this will give room to situations where cargoes intended for SIIFZ are wrongly classified as oil and gas related cargoes.

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