Protests have continued to trail the activities of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria in Anambra State, prompting the call to the Federal Government to overhaul the agency.
It will be recalled that no fewer than 300 workers in an Onitsha based company staged a protest against the organisation last week in Awka, the Anambra state capital.
The protesters’ lawyer, Chike Onyali, on Friday addressed a press conference in Onitsha, calling on the Federal Government to direct SON to procure laboratory equipment for testing standards of products for purposes of certification.
Onyali said the acquisition of the laboratory equipment had become necessary to save the country and SON from international embarrassment caused by fraud surrounding the organisation’s certification of products.
He condemned the situation where SON had to send indigenous manufacturers to other countries for such tests.
He said, “SON appears to have abandoned its statutory roles and decided to resort to blackmailing indigenous manufacturers and their industries by refusing to process and issue them appropriate MANCAP Certifications because they lack laboratory equipment and indices with which to carry out laboratory standardisation tests.”
“SON hides under the claim of substandard products to invade Nigerian markets to cart away products and in many instances, cannibalise machinery of indigenous manufacturing companies that refuse to ‘do business as usual’ with them.”
He alleged that in most cases, some of the products taken away under the guise of fake or sub-standard products were later re-channelled and sold in the markets.
Onyali said, “A typical example of such product is that of one Chike Adiole, a trader based in Onitsha, whose products were carted away by SON and was later found in the markets. The products were produced in Lagos, but because the producer was having rivalry with another company, the other party went and manipulated the situation.”
The lawyer further submitted that SON was usurping the statutory duties of Registrar of Trade Marks and that of Nigerian Customs Service Duties.
Similarly, an industrialist, Mr. Benjamin Nwaizu, has described as a ruse, the recent display of one of his products as substandard by SON in some electronic media.
Nwaizu said it was laughable for SON to have carried out such exercise after last week’s protest against it in Awka, which he said he led.
He said, “My product passed all the tests the organisation sent me to do both in and outside Nigeria and in companies recommended by the organisation.
“It is a contradiction by the organisation against itself and their action amounts to speaking from both sides of the mouth.
When contacted, a SON official, who gave his name as Okwudili denied the allegations that SON was corrupt, assuring that the issues raised by protesters would be looked into.
“SON is not corrupt. All they have alleged, we shall look into them and address them as appropriate,” Okwudiri said.