Aniebonam to SON: Name owners of 182 containers imported without SONCAP

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…Knocks Farinto over statement to discredit SON

The founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has called on the Management of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to unveil the identity of those behind the importation of one hundred and eighty-two (182) containers into the country without following the pre-shipment conformity assessment process.

Aniebonam who was reacting to a statement credited to the Director General of SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma through the Head, Public Relations, SON, Mr. Bola Fashina, said that SON should be specific and need not to be afraid of anyone as an agency of government.

It will be recalled that Aboloma who spoke through Mr. Fashina while reacting to allegation of system collapse in the agency last week posited that SONCAP is a pre-shipment process, stressing that only non-compliant importers, who apply for the certificates after the arrival of their consignments are crying foul.

He said some importers who brought in about 182 containers into the country without following the pre-shipment conformity assessment process are those trying to circumvent established procedure and crying wolf.

According to him, such consignments would naturally be subjected to scrutiny, seized if found to be substandard while those behind them would face prosecution.

However, speaking on this development, Dr. Aniebonam said, “Again, you said some people have 182 containers, who are those that have 182 containers? SON should be specific or are they afraid of anybody as an agency of government? If anybody is blackmailing SON for the reason that he has 182 containers which is not in compliance with SONCAP regulations, who is the person? SON should be able to tell us because if they say that now, I will respond. So, maybe you have to go back to SON and find out who the person that has 182 containers could be. Is he really the person that is alleging that the portal is in distress that it tends to cause breach of operations?

“But for the purpose of this conversation, I have gone through some of the reports and I did saw where a very senior member of ANLCA, the Vice President of ANLCA, if he is the person you are talking about, I will expect that Farinto should know more than the people he is leading because I am aware that NAGAFF and ANLCA have been in a responsible partnership with a view to educating, enlightening and informing the trading public as freight forwarders on the role of SON and the implementation of SONCAP regulations.

“So, if Farinto goes out to start saying things like that, it means that something is wrong in ANLCA as an organization because I am aware that when I read this issue, I got across to the President of ANLCA and he comprehensively denied any knowledge of what Farinto was talking about. So, you could see, are we now saying that there is a system breakdown? There must be chain of command in an organization. As I am sitting down here as a founder of NAGAFF, even when I am not involved in the administration, the President of NAGAFF cannot pick up issues of this nature and just go on air like that without the Council members of NAGAFF deliberating on that because this is a major issue.

“SON is an agency of government, ideally, if Farinto for instance for the purpose of this conversation did note this kind of situation, he has every access up the Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria and other operational officers. Tony Iju has access to DG of SON, have you exhausted, have you found out what you are talking about or is he the one that has the 182 containers that you people were talking about? So, I think we need to stop some of these things we are doing.”

Aniebonam who is also the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NNPP) observed that the whole thing was all about the impunity of Nigerians to circumvent the law adding that the subject matter was not about the Standards Organization, but had to do with agencies of government who had responsibilities to enforce regulations of the government.

“And because we don’t do that (enforce regulations), that is why all these people could open their mouth and be talking rubbish. Ask me, if SON is upgrading their system to give us better service, is that the noise we are making? And this thing makes no issue as it were for the fact that it did not take them time even when that was on, a proviso was made to ensure speedy clearance of cargo. I think some of us, when we have something to hide and when we are not able to hide it further, we turn to blackmail.

“And for the avoidance of doubt, anybody who thinks he can intimidate officials of government, you are just wasting your time because they have their statutory responsibility to enforce regulations. All these trumped up allegations are so inconsequential to the operations of the ports. The subject matter is compliance. If you have a transaction and it is not going through with intent to cheat or circumvent regulations, is that the temerity you have to turn to blackmail?”, he queried.

He therefore concluded by saying “For obvious reasons, I think SON has been wonderful trying to enhance trade. I only advise, don’t wake a sleeping dog because some of the anomalies in the ports are predicated on trying to grow trade other than kill trade otherwise a lot of things are going wrong, not only on issues of standardization, even on customs matters. In any form you want to look at that, we have this flair for flouting the laws and that is why you see us where we are now.

“For the avoidance of doubt, SONCAP regulation is offshore; you don’t have to allow your cargo to get into Nigeria before you begin to process your documents. And those who are making all these noise are involved in third party transaction. “

Photo: Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam.

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