There is cold war currently brewing between the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Standard Organisation Nigeria (SON) at the ports over statutory responsibilities. It was gathered that SON is bitter with NCS for not cooperating with its legal duty at the seaports.
The organisation complained that NCS’ officials were usurping its function at the examination bay by not inviting its officers for physical examination of goods, which fall under its statutory responsibilities.
However, the Public Relations Officer of NCS at the Federal Operation Unit, Zone A in Lagos, Mr Joseph Attah, explained that once an importer gets a clearance document, certifying an item okay by SON, the service would have no reason to hold such goods but to release them.
Attah said: “The issue of standard is in the hands of SON, Customs only collects duty, so far if it is not contraband. People need to know the functions of customs and the function of other regulatory agencies.
“Before customs clears an item, personnel of SON would be present to certify it okay. If the personnel out of negligence did not carry out his duty properly and signed that the item is okay and cleared it, customs will collect duty and release such item because of SON’s clearance document.
“We are not in a position to determine quality, the job of determining quality is in the hands of SON and if it is a food item, the job of determining whether it is fit for human consumption is NAFDAC.
“So in this kind of situation, it is only when you trace the clearing document; you will know whether personnel of SON is involved or not.”
But an official of SON, who pleaded anonymity, said that the operatives of the agencies could only do better during physical examination of such goods. An official of one of the agencies said in Lagos that SON officials were not alerted for inspection by NCS.
He noted: “If you are not responsible in checking for quality, then whoever has the responsibility should be alerted or called upon subsequently so that there won’t be any blame. “We are all doing it in the interest of service.”