FG returns quarantine service to seaports

The federal government has ordered the immediate return of the Nigeria Quarantine Service (NQS) to the nation’s seaports five years after it was sent packing from the economy gateways by a presidential order.

Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri who gave the directive when he visited Lagos Port to inspect some seized containers of beans, said the Quarantine Service would now conduct examination on all agro products to be exported out of the country to prevent national embarrassment.

He said the seized containers of beans were returned to Nigeria from Ireland because they were unfit for human consumption.

“It is very important that before any product leaves this country, there is need for proper quarantine certification so that we won’t have the type of embarrassment we are having now.

He said, “Going forward, for any agro products to leave this country either beans or apple, it must be certified by Quarantine Service. That is the global practice anywhere in the world.

“If you go to America, you can’t import anything without it being certified by their quarantine service. It is more important to get our acts right now because there is no more petro dollars and we need agro dollars.

“I want to use the opportunity to say no government agency has the right apart from quarantine service to say any agro product is banned for import or export.

“That is the legal and exclusive preserve of the quarantine service and that is the global practice. I know all organs of government will collaborate to achieve this objective.”

The Minister noted that the ban placed on Nigerian beans by the European Union is embarrassing to the country hence there is need to put strict measures in place to avoid future occurrence.

“EU is concerned that if appropriate measure is not taken, they will extend it to other products so we need to tell them that Nigeria agro products are safe and we need to export it to other Africa countries to consume,” he said.

Coordinating Director of Nigerian Agriculture and Quarantine Service, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said the five containers were shipped without NQS’ inspection and certification.

“When the container came back, Customs did their due diligence and we also examined the consignments. There were heaps of weevils still moving around in the beans. If it had passed through us, there was no way we would have allowed it to go,” he said.

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