NIGERIA INTERNATIONAL TRADE MAY BE UNDER SIEGE BY THE STANDARDS ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA

NAGAFF/HQ/01/F/101/37

 

August 25, 2014

 

The Executive Secretary

Nigeria Shippers Council

4 Park Lane

Apapa Lagos.

 

Dear Sir,

 

RE:    NIGERIA INTERNATIONAL TRADE MAY BE UNDER SIEGE BY THE STANDARDS ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA

 

We wish to draw your attention to the current experience freight forwarders are having in the course of delivery of goods to the owners’ warehouse from the Nigerian Ports and border stations of the Western Zone of Nigeria.  We have noted, based on reports and complaints from the practicing freight forwarders, that the enforcement unit of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), over time, has laid siege and thereby arresting containers within the city roads of Lagos State, Nigeria.

 

You will recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria had directed some Government agencies including SON to operate from outside the ports and only to be invited by Nigeria Customs Service if they show interest in any particular import or if the need arises.

 

It is on record that SON is online with NCS and we expect that if they have interest in any particular import they will indicate online to the Customs for that purpose.  It is very surprising that they are arresting containers on our city roads most times late in the night with a team of Police officers rather than following the rule.  Whereas we shall continue to push for rule of law, the immediate problem has to do with security of cargo and persons because there are several cases of container theft and hijacking by unknown armed men in Lagos State.  We just hope that hoodlums will not take advantage of SON armed men to snatch freight forwarders containers at late hours the more.

 

Whereas it is not our intention to join issues at the moment with SON enforcement unit, as a commercial regulator in our maritime trade and transportation, we want to state that their action is in breach of international trade protocol and practices with its cost implications on cargo in Nigeria.

 

Our legal department has taken time to study the act establishing SON, including but not limited to SON composition, powers of the Minister to give direction and character, the functions, charges, special responsibilities of the DG, offences in relation to standards, power of DG in relation to hazardous products, power to enter premises and obtain information, offences by bodies corporate, general offences and power to make rules.  In all these, Section 23 is very specific that the Council may make rules, not inconsistent with this Act for general and efficient conduct of the functions of the Organisation.

 

It beats one’s imagination how the Enforcement Unit of SON can on their own break the rule by using Police to arrest containers on city high ways of Lagos.  It is funny and more embarrassing that this seeming illegality is only at the Western Zone of Nigeria because they are not found in North West of Jibiya Border of Katsina State and South Eastern Ports/Border locations.  Our members who have consistently been on the receiving end of this act of illegality and impunity may be forced to seek redress in court if this does not stop forthwith.

 

We may be tempted to consider this illegal act as an act of sabotage against the ongoing transformation programme of Mr. President which is predicated on rule of law and development.

 

We therefore request that you liaise with the Director General of SON to find out what is going on because their action equally poses security threat to road users and freight agents in particular operating in Lagos State Nigeria.  We must remark that Standards Organisation of Nigeria should seek better cooperation with Nigeria Customs Service to achieve its objective of quality assurance over imported goods.  To lay siege on Nigerian international trade by arresting containers on our city high ways is very uncivilized, unprofessional and a bad conduct.

 

It is our view and strategic thinking to state that if Mr. President’s transformation programme must succeed, there is the urgent need for everybody including Government Agencies to obey, respect, observe and enforce the law.  This is how we can build a greater Nigeria of our dream.  The law establishing SON is very clear that their duty is performed at the owners’ warehouses or factories of manufacture and we believe that it is one of the major reasons the Federal Government of Nigeria refused to return them to the ports like NAFDAC and NDLEA.  In due course we may make further statement detailing our observations including corruption nature of the illegality, as critical stakeholders in the maritime trade and transportation in Nigeria.

 

Thank you for reading through our humble submissions aimed at boosting international trade in our country.

 

 

UGOCHUKWU NNADI

Deputy National President Transport Logistics

NAGAFF Headquarters

 

CC:    The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the FRN

            The Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

            The Speaker, House of Representatives, FRN

            The Secretary to the Government of the Federation

            The National Security Adviser

            The Honourable Minister of Finance

            The Honourable Minister of Transport

            The Honourable Minister Industry Trade and Investment

            The Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service

            The Inspector General, Nigerian Police Force

            The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria

            The Lagos State Governor

            The Registrar, CRFFN

            The Freight Associations

 

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