The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) surveillance, intelligence and monitoring operatives have swooped on another warehouse in Lagos where over 21 containers of stuffed imported tyres were being forcefully unstuffed, wrapped and labelled before being dispatched to markets all over the nation. Director -general, SON, Osita Aboloma, said at an enforcement exercise at the weekend in Lagos that the agency has been reinvigorated- courtesy of SON Act 2015- to go after any or inspect premises and factories in its quest to rid the Nigerian market of substandard products.
The SON boss, represented by the deputy director and coordinator of its surveillance investigation and monitoring (SIM) unit, Isa Suleiman, disclosed that the 21 containers of imported tyres,were stuffed five into one container and estimated at over N1billion were discovered and seized at a warehouse in Abule Osun, off the Lagos-Badagry Express Way opposite the International Trade Fair Complex.
The consignments translate to about 100 containers of imported tyres rather than 21 on the import documents, he said. Suleiman disclosed that the discovery and seizure of the SON regulated products was a result of surveillance and information given to the agency and followed up by the SIM Unit, inaugurated two months ago by the director- general. “We have found out that these unscrupulous people bring in the containers from the seaports, lock themselves in warehouses to forcefully unstuff the tyres, wrap and label them before loading to markets all over Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, in the process of forceful stuffing and unstuffing, the tyres become unusually expanded, others unduly compressed, bending the wires around the helms and creating sharp points that make them vulnerable to bursts on slight contacts having been squeezed and weakened, thus leading to avoidable road accidents and loss of lives.
“These are acts of clear economic sabotage of the nation through evasion of duties and taxes payable on the imports, an affront on the regulatory regime in Nigeria and danger to the lives of all road users in the country,” he stated. Suleiman added, ‘‘This practice has become commonplace as another container of similarly stuffed tyres were apprehended about the same time at Iddo, in Ebute Meta where they were also being forcefully unstuffed for loading into various trucks on standby.”
He recalled a similar seizure of stuffed tyres by the organisation in Lagos in 2017, stating that SON would be unrelenting in going after the agents of death disguised as businessmen in Nigeria.
Those behind the 2017 discovery according to him, were being prosecuted by the agency, stressing that same fate awaits the importers of the new discoveries after investigations were concluded.
“We have discovered some locations in Lagos where these tyres are taken after escaping at the seaports, forcefully unstuffed, wrapped and labelled before being sent to different markets across the country. Consequently, we will continue to search for others through our information network wherever they are to apprehend them,” he said.
According to him, the tyres, though new, were dead on arrival due to forceful stuffing and unstuffing.
“Tyre ordinarily is a life endangering product and the act of forceful stuffing into and unstuffing from each other, automatically makes them unsafe for use,’’ he further stated.
He recalled that SON recently inaugurated the SIM Unit with the sole objective to reduce the influx of substandard goods into the country by at least 30 per cent before the end of 2018.
At the inauguration, the director-general, Mr. Osita Aboloma , said the move had become expedient for SON to have independent intelligence gathering, monitoring, assessment and intervention from time to time to further promote transparency and accountability in standards enforcement activities.
The SON DG stressed that the inauguration was also expected to promote effective service delivery and faster turnaround time in standards enforcement operations.
“We have also set up this unit to protect and safeguard genuine manufacturers and importers of goods and services from unfair competition by substandard goods influx into Nigeria while also striving to improve the lives of Nigerians through standards and quality assurance,” he said.
The SON chief executive added that the inauguration was in line with the anti corruption crusade and ease of doing business initiatives of the federal government.
“SIM is an intervention unit in the office of the director- general for rapid response to issues relating to stakeholder interactions in similar fashion to that of the federal operations unit or comptroller general’s Strike Force in the Nigerian Customs Service or the inspector general of police’s Special team,” he said.