By John Iwori
A legal practitioner Iyobosa Egerin has flayed those saying that Warri, Lagos, Brass Oil and Gas Free Zones (OGFZs) were illegal establishments.
Describing the insinuations as “cruel, unfortunate, misleading and disheartening’’, Egerin said he was disappointed that such insinuations were now being regarded as the truth in some quarters.
Speaking to reporters in Lagos, the lawyer said that the insinuations had negatively impacted on the morale of workers in the OGFZs as they believed they would be thrown out of their jobs soon.
According to him, such observations informed his decision to reach out to the public with the necessary information on the true position of the OGFZ and put a stop to the antics of the sponsors in the maritime industry.
His words: “My immediate reaction to the publication was to ignore it and just regard it as the continued campaign of calumny against Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) by some stakeholders for their selfish business interest as against the overall interest of Nigeria.
“However, considering the negative impact such publications would have on the unsuspecting reading public, I have decided to respond to the said publication in order to keep the records straight. Without mincing words, I will like to state that the insinuations and publications are vexatious, offensive and completely untrue”.
Egerin said that if commentators were not deliberately inclined to deceive both the federal government and Nigerians as a whole in their public pronouncements concerning the OGFZs, they would know that the “law setting up the OGFZA gave it the statutory power to license oil and gas free zone’’.
Instead of acting like paid agent, Egerin said that the commentators should know that the law “empowers OGFZA to take over and perform such other functions being hitherto performed by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) as they relate to oil and gas activities from any of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones.
“The unambiguous implications of the law setting up OGFZA is that the legislature has expressly limited the functions of NEPZA over all export processing zones by virtue of the oil and gas free zones act’’, Egerin added.
He argued that anybody who had doubts concerning the establishment and operations of the three OGFZs should do a little bit of research or be more thorough in their work, before making public pronouncements.
Said he: “If they do, they will realize that the Oil and Gas Free Zone, Warri; the Eko Support Oil and Gas Free Zone, Apapa, Lagos; and the Brass Oil and Gas Free Zone went through the gamut of due process and diligence.”.
I have confirmed that these oil and gas free zones went through the whole gamut of due process and diligence from the applications through the ministerial recommendations and culminating in the presidential approval gazetted by the Federal Government”.
Egerin called on those who have issues with the establishment of oil and gas free zones to visit the office of the OGFZA to seek clarifications instead of making assumptions and taking uninformed positions.
He enjoined them to desist from casting aspertions on the establishments so that they do end up becoming huge negative financial implications to the Federal Government on the long run.