DPR uses obsolete laws to defraud govt, oil marketers allege

oil barrel. Image source Telegraph UK

oil barrel. Image source Telegraph UK

• No comment, says agency 

CITING its exploitation of the nation’s obsolete laws in oil and gas industry to commit fraud in the issuance of licenses and permits to the operators, oil marketing and trading (OM & T) companies have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the activities of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

Some of the marketers, who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity, alleged that officials of the regulatory agency collect exorbitant fees for licensing and renewal of permits, which are far above official fees.

“The official fees we pay to the Federal Government for licensing of depots, filling stations, lubricant retailers’ licenses, lube plants, among others, are very okay, but DPR officials collect excess charges, which are not receipted.

The official fees in the receipts are ridiculously low but what we pay is very huge,” one of the operators alleged. “Government’s searchlight is always on the NNPC but DPR has the same transparency issues,” he added.

DPR is statutorily charged with the responsibility of issuing licenses and permits for bunkering, export permit, filling stations, lubricant retailers licenses, petroleum products import, depots, pipelines, lube plants, refining and hydrocarbon processing plants, among other fees paid in the upstream sector.

While some of these fees are paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), others are paid into JP Morgan Chase Bank. One of the marketers further told The Guardian that the officials of DPR deliberately refuse to review their fees upwards to reflect the current realities of the modern times so that some corrupt officials would enrich their pockets.

“They are using old rate, which is obsolete. That is, the official fees paid to the government, but what they actually collect are very exorbitant, which do not go into government coffers.

I think they deliberately refuse to review it so that they could enrich themselves. May be, it is the government that is supposed to review it,” he said.

However, when confronted with these issues, spokesperson of DPR, Mrs. Dorothy Bassey declined to comment on the grave allegations.

Also, authorities of the regulatory agency failed to respond to a written enquiry. However, a source within the agency blamed the development on the obsolete laws in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

“The laws that stipulate the fees for these licenses and permits are very old laws. So, naturally, the fees are relatively low, compared to what is obtainable in modern times.

The organization does not encourage staff to collect above the statutory rates but one cannot rule out elements of corruption,” said the official. She noted that the issue of licensing filling stations is governed by the old Petroleum Decree of 1977, which contains all the procedures for licensing. “So, the laws are very old,” she maintained.

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