By Naomi Uzor
A lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU), Orisagbemi Adetokunbo, has called on the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to enforce stricter penalties on erring importers of fake and substandard products, stressing that Nigeria can no longer be a safe haven for substandard products.
Adetokunbo stated that the SON Act 2015 needs to be reviewed to ensure that unscrupulous importers and foreign investors who take advantage of Nigeria’s porous system to conduct shady businesses that are injurious to lives and property of the citizenry, pay dearly for their dubious acts.
According to him, some dubious foreigners engage in businesses that they ordinarily will not be able to do in their country, calling on the federal government to strengthen collaborations with embassies of different countries to curb this nefarious act.
The counsel, who spoke at a sensitization forum on SON Act 2015, also recommended the need for SON to have its own tribunals set up by the federal government in all the six geo political zones to prosecute these unscrupulous offenders responsively.
In his words, “Special ailment requires special attention. I will be suggesting further amendments in the Act. The SON has to have its own tribunals. We have six geo political zones and we can have three in each zone and areas where we have industrial parks to be flooded with these tribunals. If we take the economic effect of these bad practices seriously we will not have to waste time, if all of these things are in place, you will see that in the next three or four years, things will stabilize,” he said.
Adetokunbo said, “It is like a suggestion to the agency, let us look inward to see how we can quickly get back to the National Assembly to tell them that our courts are filled with activities, let there be tribunals established under the Act majorly for the business of the Act and these tribunals should not just be seated in Abuja alone, but present in the six geo political zones and zones where we have industrial hubs to attend to matters and dispense with this in the shortest time possible.”
He further stated that the owners of companies indulging in these fraudulent and illicit practices are mainly foreigners who have access to hard currencies, calling for an increase in the fines they pay when found wanting.
“It is not a question of you getting a defaulter and he pays fines, he avoids prisons and he goes back to that act, he makes the money within the economy anyway, so paying N2 million is not a problem. These are people who are willing to use N20 million to bribe, so I think in the area of penalty using N1 million to pay fine should be raised to about N5 million and the same time if he is a foreigner, he should lose his residence status here, business permit should also go with it.
There is no basis for him to do business here and if he is a Nigerian, he should have his imprisonment increased,” he recommended.
Earlier, the Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, said the Act was set out to sanitize the nation’s industrial, commercial, business and market space of sub-standard products, stating that it is in tandem with the economic diversification, economic growth and recovery, industrial and agricultural revolution programme of the present federal government.
“Therefore, using the instrumentality of the Act, Nigeria should be able to attain industrial development via standardisation, quality assurance and control as well as monitoring and compliance.
“The Act stresses the need for all stakeholders to be involved and carried along in its implementation (hence the need for sensitization workshops which we have embarked upon. Therefore it is a clear proof of our determination to engage in robust public-private partnership that works,” he said.