The Director Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Farouq A Salim has alleged that importers of substandard goods are using the proceeds to fund banditry and terrorism in the country.
Speaking on Wednesday during the destruction thousands of imported goods which included substandard electric cables, engine oil, LPG gas cylinders, stuffed new tyres, substandard and unapproved cigarettes and substandard low-grade roofing sheets.
The SON DG lamented that the economy of Nigeria is damaged daily due to the importation of substandard goods. He described the importers of these products as saboteurs who are sponsoring insecurities and terrorism in the country.
He said the substandard goods are now being destroyed after securing the court order to do so.
Farouq who lamented the absence of SON at the ports, stated that the goods could have been intercepted on arrival at the ports if SON was stationed inside the ports.
Salim said all the products destroyed were imported into the country and smuggled through the ports.
He, therefore, called for the return of SON to the ports to help minimise the damage done by substandard products to the nation’s economy.
According to him, destroying the substandard products is to assure Nigerians that SON is actually destroying them after obtaining court order to that effect.
“Most of these substandard products were captured in the market where they are ready to be sold to customers and the unfortunate thing is that they passed through our ports.
“It will be much easier for these substandard products to be detected if our employees are at the source of the import of these products,” he said.
According to him, SON is not always invited for joint inspection, and that invitations for joint inspection are rare and far in-between.
“I guarantee you that if our officers have opportunity to inspect these products, the moment they look at it from experience, they will be able to detect the substandard goods.
“Don’t forget that officers of the customs service are trained to check for duty, they have no idea of how to detect substandard products easily, and our personnel are trained on how to check these products,” he said.
The SON boss said unfortunately its officers had no unfettered access as stipulated by the constitution.
“Unless the law is changed by the National Assembly, signed by the president, the law says SON must and should be at the port, not at the discretion of any organisation,” he said.
He said: “I am unhappy that a few Nigerians sometimes in collusion with foreigners continue to endanger the lives and properties of our people in the quest to amass wealth, thus affecting our nation’s economy negatively.
“Lives are lost, properties are lost, and these criminals doing these activities must be brought to book, some of them are already in jail, some are in court.
“These criminals are sponsoring terrorism, separatism and banditry in this country. So it is not just selling substandard goods, they are now using the proceeds to attack us. We are not resting on our oars in ensuring that we fight this war.
“The importers are doing the nefarious activities in order to double profits. They do this intentionally; we have information that they are using the proceeds to sponsor insecurity in Nigeria.
“We have genuine manufacturers of these items in Nigeria but they have been forced out of business because of the influx of substandard goods, this act is taking away jobs from families and communities, we have unemployed youths everywhere” he said.
Mrs Bisiriyu Adesewa, Assistant Chief Scientific Officer, Sector Head (Domestic Rubber) National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Lagos Liaison Office, said NESREA was present to ensure proper disposal of the products.
“We appreciate SON for ensuring that substandard products don’t enter the market, but we are particular about what happens to these things after the destruction.
“We understand that most of them are going to recycling companies and the only one not recyclable for now is the oil and we will link SON with a facility that can help them dispose it so that there will be zero waste.
“The disposal process here is in line with our rules and regulations. The first thing is to dismantle and seperate them, which they have already done, next is the recycling,” she said.
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Also, Mrs Susie Onwuka, Head Federal Competition and Consumption Protection Commission (FCCPC), Lagos Office, said the commission had a Memorandum of Understanding with SON and different sector regulators on removal of substandard goods from the market.
She commended SON for the massive seizures, noting that more work needed to be done.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Annex, Alagbon, Lagos, Mr Lawrence Iwodi, said the police was working with SON to ensure that standard was met in relations to goods imported into the country.
“SON has often referred cases of substandard goods to the Nigerian Police and we have carried out a number of investigations into these cases, we have a lot of convictions, some are still ongoing in the court and still under investigation,” he said.
Mrs Bukola Adubi, Chief Operating Officer, MisCom Cables and Wires Ltd., promised that going forward, the company would have a good relationship with SON so that more of this evil would be exposed.
“My visit here today has been eye opening and we have been in discussion with SON on this issue. This issue is affecting our legacy, brand and our botttmline.
“This menace given sometime, we will see an end to it and I will go back to tell my people that SON does actually have their back,” she said.
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