An importer, Chucks Obiano has explained that lack of presence of officials of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) inside the ports, most especially during physical examinations is a major setback for E-SONCAP. This is even as he explained that it is the sole reasons why fake and substandard good still flood Nigeria’s ports.
E-SONCAP is a pre-shipment verification of conformity to standard processes used by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to verify that products to be imported into Nigeria are in conformity with the applicable NIS or approved equivalents, and technical regulations before shipment.
According to Obiano, who is a member of the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN), “any mischievous importer can beat the E-SONCAP because the system is very open to abuse. There are lapses in the system begging to be exploited by mischievous importers due to the singular fact that SON officials are not there in the ports anytime Customs officials are carrying out physical examination on importations.
“The E-SONCAP is a pre-shipment tool, so it can be abused. Take for instance, what if a dubious importer upload something contrary to what he is importing on the E-SONCAP? How will SON get to know that what has been uploaded is not what is inside the container?
“The only time contents of containers are opened for inspection at our ports is during physical examination conducted by Customs officials, and SON officials are not always there.
“Although the law says Customs should invite other agencies like SON for physical examination anytime they suspect something is wrong with the imports, and such import does not fall under Customs purview, but how many time has Customs invited SON on such cases? That’s the question I think should bother Nigerians.
“SON officials are not always at the ports during physical examination, and that is why dubious and mischievous importers are still having a field day brining in fake and substandard products into this country.
“Lapses arising from wrong description of imports is the major reason the SON’s E-SONCAP is not working perfectly well.
“If we say Customs always call in SON officials during physical examination, what happened with the container containing the 661 pump action guns should be a wake up call to our leaders. It left the port without being examined at all. That is the extent of porosity at our seaports.
“Some Customs officials fight tooth and nail to get posted to the seaports or border stations all because they view these stations as a means of getting rich overnight. These officers will close their eyes to allow in anything into this country as long as their pocket or bank accounts are well remunerated.
“We all saw it during the pump action importation. How on earth can a container leave any port in the world without being examined? If such keeps re-occurring, then the citizens of such country will remain exposed to insecurity and chaos.
“That is why for the E-SONCAP to be a success story, it must be backed up with permanent presence of SON officials at the ports or else it will continue to be abused.
“Yes SON officials chase and stop containers on Lagos highway to do their jobs, but how many containers will they stop like this. With the 661 pump actions guns episode, it is obvious that government should not leave our ports in the hands of Customs operatives alone.
“Other agencies of government that does quality control regulations should be asked to return back to the ports.”