SON DG, Dr. Joseph Odumodu
By Francis Ugwoke
Director General of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Ikemefuna Odumodu, has said his organisation was ready to battle importers of substandard products to submission.
Odumodu told THISDAY that his team of SON officials were all out to address years of substandard products in the country, adding that the importers will have no hiding place in the present effort to rid the country of fake products.
He disclosed that on assuming office, he gave a grace of up till May 31, this year, for the importers to clear old stocks and turn a new leaf or face the wrath of the law.
Maintaining that importation of fake products could be likened to committing murder because of the negative impact on the consumers , Odumodu said he has told importers to stop the bad habit or regret their actions.
Odumodu said that he has concluded plans to have SON units in all the major markets in the country for effective attack on sales of substandard goods. He said this was the only way to address the problem, since SON does not have the human capacity to police all the porous illegal border routes in the country.
According to him, the units in the markets will apart from checking substandard products, serve as information centres for consumers to confirm the genuineness of each product they want to buy.
He maintained that with this measure, there will be no hiding place for importers, adding that it was time for fake products dealers to have a second thought.
Odumodu said that already, he has been holding meetings with leaders of various markets to stop them from patronizing importers of fake products, explaining that in some cases, these traders do not even know which product is fake.
To ensure that SON officers are not compromised, Odumodu disclosed that on assuming office, he had to remove all those who had been in the ports, and brought in new officials.
He added that some freight forwarders had alleged that some of the SON officials in the ports were corrupt, one of the reasons that he made changes.
But he disclosed that the same freight forwarders in the ports have been bitter about the new officials, apparently because they have refused to be compromised.
Odumodu said that he will not succumb to the blackmail and threat from some freight forwarders, maintaining that he will do exactly what he has been assigned by the Federal Government to do in addressing the issue of substandard goods.
He disclosed that he has been cornered in the office and his hometown by importers desperate to continue in the old ways, but said he will not succumb to the pressure.
He disclosed that already some importers had approached him with a bribe of N50m, but he said, he jokingly told them to go and look for N1billion.
The SON had imposed a default charge and deposit of about N1.5m on goods that did not meet SONCAP standard. But following outcry from freight forwarders, this was reduced. It was gathered that the N1m deposit was reduced N500,000. The organisation also reduced fees on general goods to N250,000 and N350,000 on life threatening goods.