Arresting of containers: NAGAFF petitions Shippers’ Council, threatens Court action against SON

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The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has taken its case against the Enforcement unit of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to the Economic Regulator of the Nigerian ports, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) alleging that SON by the activities of its enforcement unit was in breach of international protocols and practice.

In a petition addressed to the Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello with the title,” Nigeria international trade may be under siege by the Standards Organization of Nigeria” and signed by the Deputy National President, Transport Logistics of the association, Mr. Ugochukwu Nnadi, NAGAGFF accused the Enforcement unit of SON of arresting containers duly exited from the Customs Ports within the city roads of Lagos in collaboration with the men of the Nigeria police.

In the letter which was copied to the President, Goodluck Jonathan and thirteen others, NAGAFF recalled that the Federal government had directed some government agencies including SON to operate from outside the ports and only be invited by Nigeria customs service if they show interest in any particular import or if the need arose.

It therefore wondered why the enforcement unit of SON could on their own take laws into their hands by using the Police to arrest containers on the city high ways of Lagos describing it as embarrassing and funny moreso as the illegality thrived only at the Western Zone of the country.

The letter read in part,” 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 to the customs for that purpose. It is surprising that they are arresting containers on our city roads most of times late in the night with a team of Police Officers rather 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’s armed men to snatch freight forwarders’ containers at late hours”.

The Association disclosed that its legal department had 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 Director General and so on and that in all of that, section 23 was very specific that the Council may make rules, not inconsistent with the Act for general and efficient conduct of the functions of the organization.

It noted that while it may not want to take laws into its own hands, NAGAFF however hinted that its members who had been consistently on the receiving end of what it called an act of illegality and impunity, may be forced to seek redress in the court of law if the action did not stop forthwith.

While calling on the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to liaise with the Director general of SON on the way forward, NAGAFF reminded him tat the law establishing SON was very clear that its duty be performed at the owners’ warehouses or factories of manufacture thus the reason the federal government refused to return them to the ports alongside the national Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

“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”.

“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 way is very uncivilized, unprofessional and a bad conduct”, NAGAFF said.

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