FREIGHT FORWARDERS BATTLE SON OVER HIGH IMPORT PENALTIES
By Godfrey bivbere
Stakeholders in the freight forwarding sector of the maritime industry are set to drag the management of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to court over high fees collected from importers as penalty for falling short of SONCAP certification.
The stakeholders under the aegis of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) as a result of the above have served SON their intention to head for the law court should they (SON) continue to collect the fee from port importers.
Lawyers to the two bodies, Fred Akokhia, warned that the collection of the fee is not only illegal but also contributes to high cost of doing business at the nation's seaports.
In its notification letter to SON, NAGAFF's lawyer, Barrister Fred Akokhia,,said SON's general role in the ports and its punitive monetary measures to importers whose imports fall short of SONCAP certification are illegal, might hinder trade facilitation and possibly lead to smuggling.
Akokhia noted that SON's collection of default penalties for imported goods to the tune of N250,000 per container for general goods and N350,000 per container for electrical and electronic goods and other life endangering products was illegal.
He said the actions of the organisation regarding punitive monetary measures were contrary to the Act setting it up.
He explained that the Act requires that the Director General seek the approval of the Council of SON before embarking on all its action.
He said, 'With the foregoing, it would seem that the Director General has decided to usurp the function of the Council of SON with impunity and disdain. Without any equivocation.'