The federal government says the revocation of residence permits of expatriate workers in Integrated Logistic Facilities & Services (Intels) was not politically-motivated.
According to Vanguard, Umana Umana, managing director of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), presented documents which show that the affected companies violated the extant laws guiding operations of the nation’s export free zones.
Umana said the companies failed in their requirements to renew the 2017 operational license, as stipulated by the laws of OGFZA.
The five other firms – Prodeco International Ltd., West Africa Machinery Services Ltd., Net Global System International Ltd., MGM Logistics Solutions Ltd., and Oriean Investment Ltd. – were said to have voluntarily applied to quit the free zones.
The firms, according to the documents, consequently lost their operating licence and work visa after they quit.
However, Intels, co-founded by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, reportedly ignored the notice.
“Cancellation of expatriates’ permits of Intels and other affiliates of Intels is in accordance with extant laws and regulations of the free zones,” Umana said.
“There is nothing political about the action taken by NIS based on the recommendations of the OGFZA.
“This position is supported by facts.
“We are therefore surprised about the political undertones or the attempts to politicize an action which is purely routine and in accordance with extant laws and more so when the requests for de-registration were voluntarily made by the companies.
“It must be noted that all companies have to be treated in the same way under the law. In this case, Intels has also been treated like others, which refused to renew their licenses.”
Umana said the management of Intels was reminded in writing thrice this year, in March, June and October, to renew its operational license in order to continue to operate with its expatriate staff in the free zones but ignored the letters from the agency and threatened to take legal action against the federal government.
He explained that the conditions for renewal of a free zone are payment of license fee, payment of any other debts owed to the authority, submission of audited accounts and returns and any other documents that may be required by the authority.
He added that non-payment of stipulated fees and failure to meet other conditions precedent to the license renewal by any free zone enterprise violate section 35 of the oil and gas free zone regulations of 2003.
“A license shall be valid for one calendar year and upon expiration, a license shall be renewed on: payment of the prescribed fees; payment of any outstanding amount due to the Authority, the presentation of any other documents, returns or information which the Authority may require, and the presentation of an acceptable appraisal report in the case of Free Zone enterprise,” the section reads.
Umana said the agency had on October 23, 2017, written a reminder to the managing director of Intels, drawing his attention to the violation and also pleaded with the firm to fulfil the conditions so as to continue to operate in the zone.