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SON raises alarm over importers operating from remote areas

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Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON)

Says About 2000 Containers Slip Through Ports Unnoticed
• Onne Customs Seizes Goods Worth N4.1b

The Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Farouk Salim has disclosed that importers of substandard products have resorted to operating from remote areas in their bid to avoid being noticed by the agency.

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Salim said the importers were taking advantage of the vastness of the country to store substandard products in warehouses at different hideouts across the country while assuring that they would not escape the agency’s enforcement activities.

The SON DG disclosed this during an enforcement exercise last Friday, in a warehouse at Obafemi Owode area of Ogun State, where substandard tyres worth about N600m were discovered and confiscated by the agency.

The Director-General said the tyres, illegally stuffed in 100 containers, passed through the ports unnoticed, saying this again has underscored the need for the agency to be present at the nation’s points of entry.

He stated that before declaring a tyre substandard, it would have been tested in the laboratory and found short of the requirements of the NIS 252 2017 standards.

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He said importers stuff expired tyres in order to dodge duties and shipping cost, while they make a huge profit without minding the quality and implications on people’s lives.

Salim explained that the physical structures of the tyres were readily affected while exposed to stuffing, as they are produced through a mechanical process.

He said the seizure was to ensure that the tyres don’t find their ways into the nation’s markets, as their integrity had been lost.

He said: “This is a very dangerous situation because people’s lives are at stake and our roads are not safe because of something like this. We have no idea how these tyres got into this country. These containers did not come through us and they do not have papers with us that the goods have been cleared.

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“We do not also have access to the port because if we were at the ports, there is no way we would allow about 100 containers; and you can imagine another 15 warehouses around the country – we are looking at about 2000 containers slipping through unnoticed.’’

Providing a background to his agency’s relationship with the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), he described it as excellent, underscoring the importance of closer synergy among sister agencies to combat the menace of substandard goods.

Salim said the manager of the warehouse has been arrested, while the agency awaits the owner of the product, who is a foreigner to come and explain himself.

He said if the owner of the product does not show up, the agency will go ahead in prosecuting the manager and anybody involved.

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The warehouse Manager, Emmanuel Ogbagu, while fielding questions from Salim, said the warehouse employed manpower from outside Nigeria to un-stuff the tyres to be taken to markets across the country.

He said all efforts to reach the owner of the warehouse had proved abortive, and that he was quite aware of the implications of stuffing tyres.

Meanwhile, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) for Area ll Command, Onne Port, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed has disclosed that the command recorded a total of 12 seizures with a cumulative duty paid of N4,120,882,608.03 between January and March 2021, just as it intensified its anti-smuggling activities.

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He said the seizures comprise two units of used Mitsubishi buses; 210 bales of second-hand clothing;1,435 pieces of used tyres; used engine gearbox and auto spare parts; 310 pallets of laser ketchup and 20 bales of fabrics.

Mohammed, in a statement signed by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Ifeoma Onuigbo Ojekwu, said the Command also generated over $70.8m from export trade in the first quarter of 2021.

He said the Command processed 207,749.614 metric tonnes of cargoes with a free on board value of $70,838,025.68, comprising cashew nuts, ginger, hibiscus flower, sesame seeds, zircon sand, palm kernel, tiger nuts and many more.

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