SON may ruin international trade, NAGAFF cries out

NAGAFF BOSS, Boniface Aniebonam

…Alleges SON lays siege on released containers

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has raised the alarm, over recent activities of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) to destabilize international trade, noting that the SON, was laying siege and arresting containers within the roads of Lagos State.

Already, the group has forwarded a letter to this effect, to the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and copied the Presidency, the Senate President and the Customs Comptroller  General (CGC), amongst other, stressing the need for their urgent interventions, to prevent SON, from ruining the trade further.

“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”, the National  Deputy President, Ugochukwu Nnadi, indicated, recalling that the Federal Government of Nigeria had once directed some Government agencies including SON to operate from outside the ports and only be invited by Nigeria Customs Service if they show interest in any particular import if the need arises.

The group was miffed that since the SON is online with NCS, it should know that its operatives would be duly informed if necessary.

“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”, Ugochukwu said, warning that except something was urgently done,  hoodlums may take advantage of it, with armed men, on possibly to snatch containers at late hours.

The body said it was calling on the NSC to act fast, as an economic regulator, to act fast.
“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.
“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.

“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 Organization 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”, the NAGAFF Chieftain, in charge of Transport and Logistics concluded, pointing out that the law establishing SON is very clear that their duty is performed at the owners’ warehouses or factories of manufacture; being one of the major reasons the Government refused to return them to the ports like NAFDAC and NDLEA.