Two Pakistani Nationals and importers of consumables have been apprehended by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Enforcement team while changing manufacturing and expiry dates of already expired imported Fruit Juice at a Warehouse located on 6, Burma Road, Apapa, Lagos.
The cartel allegedly brought in the consignments under false declaration as different products to deceive regulatory agencies and shortchange the government.
The arrest of Messrs. Muhammed Ali and Naveed Akhtar who have been handed over to the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Nigeria Police, Ikoyi followed a tip-off provided to the SON Team by a patriotic Nigerian.
Items found in the Warehouse included expired imported Nesfruta Juice in different flavours, labels that were being used to change the dates, unlabeled basmati rice and some other consumables like bottled and plastic packaged soft drinks.
Conducting newsmen round the warehouse on behalf of the SON Director General, Osita Aboloma the Assistant Director, Compliance Engr. Mathias Makwe commended the informant and urged Nigerians to join the quality vanguard by providing useful information to regulatory and security agencies for prompt action.
According to him, the discovery was another in the series of SON’s concerted efforts to protect Nigerians from the consumption of life endangering products being distributed by unscrupulous persons.
“What we have discovered is that they are changing the dates of manufacture and expiry, especially in the fruit juices. We have taken samples of the expired products and the labels being used to interface with the existing ones. Some other products discovered here have their expiry dates in order, but further investigations would enable us get to the root of it”, he said.
Matthias said the warehouse would remain sealed until further investigation is concluded.
Meanwhile, Akhtar said the expired consumables were meant for his personal consumption and that the falsified expiry date labels was to ease transportation of the products to his home in Ikeja.
He further said the products got expired due to delays by the Nigeria Ports Authority. He however contradicted himself when he said the products were imported two weeks ago whereas some of the products had expired five months earlier.
“I brought them only for my personal use not for public use. If you can check the value of that juice, it is not even up to 200 dollar. It is for my own personal use and my family. It is not for Nigerians.”
“I printed new expiry labels because my plan was to carry them from here to Ikeja. Mostly, anytime I go from here, police are always on the road, they always search us and start disturbing us. So I decided to stop the disturbance that was why I printed a new expiry date and changed the former one. It is very few. And you cannot see this fruit juice anywhere in Nigeria. We do not sell to Supermarkets”. Aktar said.
Debunking the claims, SON Director of Compliance, Engr. Bede Obayi disclosed that further investigations of the company’s profile on the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) portal showed that the products in question were brought into the country with wrong declaration.
The company according to him, have only been declaring importation of electrical appliances, aluminum profiles and the like in order to confuse the implementation of the HS codes for the regulatory agencies and beat payment of statutory importation fees.
Engr. Obayi posited that the few packets of fruit juices only attests to the fact that the bulk of the imported products must have been sold out as according to him “printed copies of the labels can only point to massive use as against the picture being painted by Aktar” Further investigations will reveal their distribution channel, he said.
He stated that in line with SON Act No. 14, of 2015, the suspects will be charged to court on conclusion of investigations stressing that they were in the custody of the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Nigeria Police.