Proliferation of fake and substandard goods out of the nation’s seaports has become a thing of concern as it milks the country of its economic gains not to mention the negative and unhealthy aftermath of the goods in question.
The Nigerian ports have agencies who are saddled with the responsibility of making sure these goods don’t find their way into the country. The major two of these agencies are the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). While former has a sole responsibility of checking for ‘standard and quality’ the latter ensures appropriate and maximum revenue is collected on the goods imported into the country.
Looking at the two agencies and their core functions at the seaports, it is expected they work together for the greater good of the country.
But this is not always the story as SON Director General Mallam Farouk recently accused the NCS of
being responsible for revenue losses, the preponderance of fake and substandard products, and also hinted that officials of SON were routinely excluded from joint examinations by officers of the NCS.
The Portway had one of its field corespondents look into the allegation by SON and discovered it is impossible clearing goods imported into Nigeria across the seaports without the knowledge or Customs marriage with the SON.
The NCS has a system that drives it which is called the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS II) which SON and other regulatory agencies of government are linked directly to. NICIS II makes open the activities of Customs to other regulatory agencies and frequently make inputs in reference to items of significance to their operations.
As a matter of fact, there has been instances when the Nigeria Customs Service on its own alerts the SON on suspicious items bordering on brand and intellectual property rights infringements to them.
The NCS in reply to the SON’s DG and for the purpose keeping the general public abreast has officially released a press statement as to this effect where it further explained reasons why it’s not possible conducting joint examination of cargos without involving SON officials.
Read the full statement below:
The attention of the Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to news reports where the Director-General/Chief Executive of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, was attributed to have flayed Customs over the smuggling of fake and substandard goods out of the nation’s seaports.
In the statement, he was credited to have accused the Service of being responsible for revenue losses, the preponderance of fake and substandard products, and alluded that officials of SON were routinely excluded from joint examinations by officers of the NCS.
We want to state that the allegations are untrue. The Nigeria Customs Service is fully cognizant that strategic cooperation among security and regulatory agencies lies at the heart of national security willfully works in tandem with other security and regulatory agencies including SON to achieve national goals.
Under the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS II), SON and other regulatory agencies of government are linked directly and frequently make inputs in reference to items of significance to their operations. At no time has NCS refused to oblige them with any request. Indeed the Nigeria Customs Service even without intervention from SON on its own directs suspicious items bordering on brand and intellectual property rights infringements to them.
The attached redacted documents buttress the fact that SON has access to our systems, are informed and fully participates in examinations and even go as far as collect product samples were necessary during examinations for their investigations. Even the field inspection process chart on the SON official website shows the involvement of SON at the ports and borders during examinations.
There exist open channels of communication between officials of SON and NCS Area Commands should the need arise for clarifications or interventions.
Therefore this statement ascribed to the DG creates a totally false narrative and is viewed as an attempt to portray the NCS in a negative light. It is questionable, raises serious concerns and calls for scrutiny by discerning members of the public. It is also self-condemning, regrettable and exposes SON as being incapable of living up to its mandate. If after issuing certificates, participating in examinations, taking samples for further investigations and authorizing release to the NCS, substandard goods find their way into the open market the DG SON should look inwards.
While success is said to breed opposition, the success of the NCS is not achieved by tarnishing the image of another agency just to look good or score cheap points. Our nation at this time needs every security and regulatory agency to trust and work as a team for our socio-economic wellbeing. We urge the DG SON and his agency not to be self-seeking, leave the path of rivalry and collaborate towards achieving national interest.
Public Relations Officer
For: Comptroller-General of Customs