The National Association of Government Approved freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has berated the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) for arresting containers within the city roads of Lagos state.
This was contained in a letter signed by the Deputy National President, Transport Logistics, NAGAFF Headquarters, Ugochukwu Nnadi who said that the enforcement unit of SON lay siege to arrest containers released from the port.
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 showed interest in any particular import or if the need arose.
According to him, SON should indicate their interest in any particular container through the Nigeria Customs Service since they are in the new customs portal so as to avoid the arrests along the roads.
The release read, “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.”
Describing the action as illegal and a breach to international trade protocol and practices, the association said it was not intending to join issues with the organization as he legal department of the association had taken time to study the Act establishing SON.
“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 Organization.”
According to the document, “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.”
While calling on the various arms of government that regulate the economy, NAGAFF enjoins them to evaluate the actions of the organization as they affect the economy.
“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 much 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.”