*Our fees are reasonable and backed by law-DG
By Soni Daniel, Assistant Editor
COMPANIES and individuals deploying radioactive equipment and other materials for oil production and health services in Nigeria have kicked against what they consider as excessively high charges levied them by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, NNRA.
Radioactive materials are used primarily in Nigeria in oil production rigs and in medical laboratories across the country.
The aggrieved persons and organisations specifically want President Goodluck Jonathan to order the regulatory agency to stop further imposition of inexplicable charges on them so as not to push them out of business and add to the high unemployment rate in Nigeria.
In the petition, which was made available to Vanguard, yesterday, the stakeholders lamented that their business had almost been crippled by the unjustified and excessive high fees being imposed on them by the NNRA. They accused the agency of being obsessed “with excessive, unrealistic and unjustifiable fees on its emergence, coming up with multiple fees for same service broken up into as many pieces as possible just to extort money from the clients.”
They pointed out that as a result of the new fees regime imposed on them, a member who runs an X-ray department would need at least N2,000,000 to obtain NNRA licence to be able to import and operate its machines while those using CT scanning machines would spend up to N4,000.000 to import and operate every two years. They argued that even though the law setting up the NNRA empowered it to prescribe certain fees payable for its services, its major function was to assist Nigeria in the safe use of radioactive substances.
Part of the petition read, “Nowhere in the Act setting up the NNRA does the Government mandate NNRA to stop Nigerians from using radioactive substances through prohibitive fees or to use its powers to destroy every other aspect of the economy and especially the current local content initiatives of the Federal Government, or worse, grind the oil industry to a halt.
“It is pertinent to state for the record, that in all democracies, whenever decisions affecting a segment of the economy are to be taken, a public hearing ought to be conducted to ascertain its merits and demerits, acceptability or otherwise. It is also a cardinal principle of the fair hearing rule that the other party must be heard before decisions affecting the party would be taken by anybody with respect for democratic norms. We wish, therefore, to state that the high-handed increment, therefore, is suffocating, arbitrary, oppressive and inhuman, and tantamount to sheer economic sabotage for very selfish reasons not justifiable by any argument, no matter how tenuous.”
But the Acting Director General of the NNRA, Dr. Martin Ogharandukun, dismissed the allegation of high fees by the end users as untenable, arguing that the charges were reasonable and approved by law.