Justice Lateef Ganiyu of the Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan has fixed July 6, 2020, for hearing in a case filed by some aggrieved members of the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners Practitioners (AWDROP) and Borehole Drilling Association of Nigeria (BODAN) against the Oyo State Government.
The case is on the appointment of a consultant to collect revenue in the borehole drilling industry in Oyo State.
The borehole drillers had joined alongside the state government, a consultant, Royal Gem Multi-Sector Limited which was approved by the government to collect revenue and regulate drilling of a borehole in the state as well as the Oyo State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as respondents.
The claimants’ legal representative, Mr Olaniyi George, had in the process before the court argued that the Oyo State government has no power to appoint a consultant to regulate the activities of his client and they cannot be compelled to pay into the consultant’s account under the law.
George had averred that a government that cannot provide drinkable water for the public cannot tax the public who decided to sink a borehole for their private consumption and had urged the court to declare that the Oyo State government and its agencies cannot demand multiple taxes from the public and the claimant as revenue to the state under whatever guise.
He further asked the court to order that the appointment and selection of a consultant firm as revenue collector in borehole drilling in the state were in breach of the provision of extant policy and urged the court to order the consultant to account for the money so far collected from the drillers on behave of the government.
In his defence, counsel to the consulting firm, Mr Rotimi Daramola, said that the appointment of the consultant by the government was to check indiscriminate drilling of a borehole in the state and safeguard the environment, adding that the consultant appointed by the government was also a drilling company assigned the duty in order to regulate and ensured that drillers are following a standard procedure to prevent the occurrence of unwarranted future hazard like earthquake among others.
He argued that said that the claimant is only trying to avoid the system put in place and are unwilling ready to comply with the directive of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources on drilling to protect the environment.
“It is a must for the claimants to be registered, licensed with the government and present e-receipt of payment to the consultant with which the consultant will issue a permit to them to drill. They must be licensed with the government before they can embark on drilling, which they are trying to avoid,” he stated.