Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Joseph Odumodu said his agency will stop arresting containers on the nation’s highways from next month.
Odumodu disclosed this yesterday when he visited the national secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Amuwo Odofin, Lagos.
He said the agency had started integrating its platform with that of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in order to track substandard consignments exiting the port.
He said, “In the next two or three weeks we will stop arresting containers on the highway because we have started integrating our systems with the Nigeria Customs Service.
“We are sure that the Customs system will give us all information needed about all containers exiting the port without relevant certification.”
Odumodu admitted the failure of the organisation’s current approach to the fight against imported substandard goods.
“What we do now is just a blindfolded approach which was only to stop containers on the highway but now if the integration starts by end of this month, we will only focus on those consignments that have not complied and make things uncomfortable for them until they comply.
“Anytime I see a container without SONCAP what comes into my mind is that they are substandard because what it will take them to get a SONCAP abroad is $300 while it takes about N250, 000 to get a SONCAP in Nigeria so which one is better?
“SON does not have limitations to anyplace we can go in carrying out our job anywhere in the country, though being on the road is not the best but that is the pragmatic way of solving the problem at hand,” he said.
Odumodu said it was wrong for any SON officer to usurp the function of the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
He however directed all his officers to stop examining or collecting charges on consignments that fall under the purview of NAFDAC.
He said, “I want to state here that no SON staff for any reason is allowed to touch any consignment that is under the category of food or drugs. There is no need for such intervention because the constitution does not allow it.
“If you see anyone doing the job of NAFDAC, you can report to me through your president, Prince Shittu.”
Earlier in his speech, the National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said his association shared the same aspirations with SON.
“The primary duty of SON is to set standards and in setting the standard, we must ensure that Nigeria is not a dumping ground of what is not needed elsewhere.
“From the information I gathered, there are less substandard goods coming into Nigeria now aside from the ones smuggled and we are telling you that you should ask the government allow you employ people that will man the border,” he said.
In a separate development, the Commissioner of Police, Western Ports Command, Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro- Harison has threatened to drag police officers attached to the Area B, Apapa before the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Kayode Aderanti if they do not desist from undue harassment and extortion of clearing agents.
Ibifuro-Harrison said this yesterday when she visited the ANLCA national secretariat.
“On the Area B Police Command that disturb you, this is in the purview of the CP of Lagos, Aderanti and we all know that Aderanti is an international police officer who knows his onions not a police of kobo kobo that will put people in the bus to go about doing what is wrong.
“I will synergise with him. I will even see him any moment from now and I will tell him what I have heard from you,” she told the agents.
She also warned customs agents against fraternizing with police to sweep crime under the carpet at the port.
“Please, if you have case of injustice report directly to me. Also, it has come to our notice that some of you fraternize with my officers to sweep things under the carpet and that is why they can come to you again. I urge you not to fraternize with the bad eggs in the force.
“We all know that until some persons are taught lessons they don’t ever change and you are the ones to assist not when the case has passed. There is nobody above the law. There is no police who have been given a mandate to collect bribe and I want to tell you that the IG’s vision is to make police the leading law enforcement body in Nigeria,” she said.
She said the challenges in the port particularly Western ports include “the heavy traffic gridlock occasioned by the presence of increased commercial activities in the area and the presence of hoodlums and other miscreants who take advantage of the chaotic traffic situation to commit sundry crimes within the port environment.”
“It is therefore expected that all stakeholders in the maritime industry in Nigeria would rekindle their security consciousness and redouble their efforts taking advantage of the lucid provisions of the ISPS Code and its functional requirements to ensure that the port is insulated from the threat and challenges identified,” she added.
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