By Franklin Ocheneyi
“Apart from the offences already recognized under the old Act, the new SON Act created some other offences and imposed stringent penalties on defaulters. By virtue of Section 31(1) of SON Act 2015, both evasion and attempt to evade fees or levies payable or chargeable under the Act is an offence which upon conviction attracts a fine of not less than N1, 000, 000 and/or an imprisonment term of not less than nine (9) months”.
Dr. James Agbonhese, a principal partner and legal expert, Agbonhese Chambers, disclosed during a sensitisation forum on SON Act 2015 in Abuja.
“It was with impunity that people flouted the directives of the organization in time past, but that will no longer be tolerated under the new Act because, now, section 31 (2) provides that where a person refuses, neglects or fails to comply with any directive lawfully given by the organization, he commits an offence under the Act, and in addition to the forfeiture of any article or product seized, he is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N1,000,000 or to imprisonment and in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine not less than N250,000 for every day during which the offence continues,” he said.
According to him, under the former Act, the penalties imposed for the various offences under the Act ranged from N200 to N100, 000. “These penalties were grossly inadequate in serving its deterrence purpose; neither did it constitute enough punishment for the havoc being wrought by substandard goods in Nigerian market”.
Rasaq Okulaja A council member of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), applauded the sanctions and said that this move is the only way to address the influx of fake and substandard goods hindering the growth and development of the country.
He said the SON Act 2015 is set out to sanitise the nation’s industrial, commercial, business and market space of substandard products, saying that it is using the instrumentality of the Act, Nigeria could attain economic development via standardisation, quality assurance and control as well as monitoring and compliance.
“MAN is willing to work with SON to ensure standards are kept. Stakeholders must also unite and tackle challenges of consumer sensitisation. Nigerians must appreciate the impact of substandard products on them as consumers, manufacturing, employment and the economy as a whole,” he said.
Earlier, Osita Aboloma , the Director- General, SON, said the provisions of the SON Act give operators and players ample room to do the right thing in order to promote their businesses and industries for the overall benefit of the nation’s economy.
“SON is, therefore, a business facilitator rather than a body out to stifle industrial and business development. Our products need to be acceptable and competitive locally and globally; meaning that they must meet global standards and international best practices. This, among others, is what the SON Act is meant to ensure. Local industries need to survive and enjoy fair competition with imported goods. As a regulator, this is the work of SON.”