THE lingering controversy on whether the standard organisation of Nigeria SON, has power to enter into any premises and confiscate sub-standard products came to the front burner again, as its Director General, affirmed this authority and the agency’s power to prosecute same SON Director General Osita Aboloma, re-emphasised this position in Lagos to clear the air on the issue.
Aboloma said that SON has the full backing of the federal government to operate in any premises by virtue of the Act establishing it amid controversy over its jurisdiction in checkmating the influx of fake and sub-standard products into Nigeria. “If you look at the SON Act No 14 of 2015, the duties are enumerated, and it has the full backing of the federal government .
“The Act has also made provision for offences and of course when you bring in substandard products, it means you have committed an offence and there are procedures we have to follow to ensure prosecution in court. If you look at Sections 30 to 33, we have all the offences stated there and aside the SON Act, we are also using the Criminal Code to prosecute the offenders. When you bring in expired products, you are endangering the lives of the public and it is against the Nigerian Law.”
Aboloma who spoke through the Chief State Counsel in office of the Attorney General, of the Federation who is also the SON prosecutor, Mr Babatunde Alajogun, disclosed this at SON’s enforcement exercise in Lagos. Alajogun said the new SON Act has given the director general of SON and other officials the right to enter the premises and seize products and also destroy them and if need be, the perpetrators could be taken to court.
“So generally, the SON Act made provisions even for the officers so they have the rights and power to enforce the provision of the Act and if you see anybody saying SON cannot enter any premises to evacuate substandard products and they will want to take us up on that, we are fully on ground.” he said.
According to him, the agency has so far made some arrests concerning some other substandard products saying: “We have filed some of these events in court and there is nothing we can say more than that because the matter is already in court. This enforcement exercise can also go in the same line if after the conclusion of the investigation; we can get hold of those who are making sub-standard products. They can also be prosecuted and the products destroyed. If you suspect that a product is substandard whether at the seaports, land borders and what have you, SON have right to intercept such products. Nobody can say that SON cannot enter the ports.”
He further stated that by virtue of the law, SON could enter anywhere as long as there are commercial activities going on in the premises, and it suspects that there are products that will be injurious to the society or to the Nigerian economy. “So far we have taken some actions to court and we have gotten court orders to destroy. We are taking steps and we have filed applications before the court to destroy some substandard products. So far we have received not less than five and this is part of the success we are talking about. There are other cases we have also filed in court before now and we hope to get conviction very soon,” he further said.
While noting that it is an offence for anyone to stop any SON official from carrying out their duty, he said, “It is an offence under the Act and you can be prosecuted for that and if you refuse to listen to any directive from our officials, you can also be prosecuted either as a person or corporate body. SON can prosecute such person or the corporate organization. This is stated under the Section 33 of the Act. Once you are found wanting in bringing in substandard products, you will be prosecuted against in the court of law. Anybody who wilfully obstruct, resist or assault any officer of the agency in execution of his duties under this Act is liable to a fine of N1 million or face one year imprisonment. ”
In addition, Osita declared that SON was fully committed to driving the present administration’s ease of doing business mantra by providing technical assistance to the business community, stating that it has been working with sister government agencies to achieve this feat.
“We are already prepared to complement the federal government’s ease of doing business mantra. We have put up our structures to carry out our mandate and we are keying into this administration’s ease of doing business initiative along with other federal government’s agencies