NCS, SON disagree over influx of substandard goods at ports
By JOHNMARK UKOKO
Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) have disagreed over the influx of substandard and fake goods and products that have flooded the country’s markets through the ports.
Recently, Director General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, who spoke during the destruction of some wholesome products at Amuwo Odofin in Lagos, blamed the influx of the products on the fact that officials of the agency were not at the nation’s various ports.
He indicted the NCS for not carrying his officials along in its various cargoes’ inspection.
While supervising the destruction of cable wires, stuffed tyres and gas cylinders worth billions of naira, Farouk said his officers are not given unfettered access to the port to partake in joint cargo examinations by the custom.
But in a swift response to Salim’s allegation at the weekend, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Customs, Timi Bomadi, disagreed with the SON, saying the statement ascribed to the SON Director General was not true.
Bomadi stated that there are existing open channels of communication between officials of SON and Customs Area Commands should the need arises for clarification or interventions, adding that NCS’s usually partake in examination of goods.
“We want to state that the SON’s allegations are untrue. The Nigeria Custom Service is fully cognisant that strategic cooperation among security and regulatory agencies is at the heart of national security and will willingly work in tandem with other security and regulatory agencies including the SON, to achieve national goals.
“Under the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS 11), SON and other regulatory agencies of government are linked directly and frequent make inputs in reference to their operations.
“At no time did the NCS refuse to oblige them with any request. Indeed the Nigeria Custom Service even without intervention from SON on its own directs suspicious items bordering on brand and intellectual property rights infringements to them,” he said.
Speaking further, he explained that the SON has access to NCS systems and that its officials are informed and fully participate in examination of goods and accessing the Customs website.
“Therefore, the statement ascribed to the Director-General of SON creates a totally false negative light. It is questionable, raises serious concern and calls for scrutiny by discerning members of the public. It is also self-condemning.
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“SON has access to our systems, the officers are informed and fully participate in examinations and even go as far as collect product samples where necessary during examinations for their investigations. Even the field inspection process chart on the SON official website shows the involvement of SON at the ports and boarders during examinations.
Bomodi stressed that if after issuing certificates, participating in examinations, taking samples for further investigations and authorising releases to the NCS, substandard goods find their way into the open market, the SON boss should look inwards.
“While success is said to breed opposition, the success of the NCS is not achieved by tarnishing the image of other agencies, just to look good or score cheap points,” he added.
While Fielding questions from journalists on why fake products are all over the country, Farouk said: “We are not always invited for joint inspection, it is rare and in-between, but I guarantee you that if our officers get opportunity to inspect these products, the moment they look at it from their experience, they would be able to detect substandard goods.
“Don’t forget that our colleagues in the Customs service are only trained to charge duty payment, they have no idea what substandard goods look like. But our officers are trained on how to check these products and determine if they are substandard.
“We do not have unfettered access like the constitution said we should, the law 2015 Act says we must be allowed to be at the port, it is not a favour that we should be waiting on someone to call us into the port.
“As Nigerians, we are part of the government by law, unless the law is changed by the National Assembly and signed by the President, the law says that the SON must be present at the port and not at the discretion of other agencies,” he stated.
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