Nigeria Beefs Up Product Standards


A recently signed law in Nigeria, the Standards Organization of Nigeria Act of 2015, puts more teeth in the governments ability to crack down on substandard lubricants, empowering regulators to arrest and prosecute offenders.

The original SON Act of 2004 – which applies to but isnt limited to lubricant products – empowered the standards and regulatory agency to inspect various products, including engine oils, for compliance with national standards. That 2004 law authorized the agency to seize, destroy or prohibit the sale of non-compliant products, but while regulators had the power to enter any premises where commercial activity was taking place, they did not have the ability to arrest offenders on the spot.

Timothy Abner, of the agencys Management System Certification Directorate, told Lube Report that the 2015 SON Act, which was signed into law by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in May, now allows the agency to not only confiscate products of substandard quality but to prosecute offenders.

Dr. Joseph Odumodu, director general of SON, stated as much in a recent meeting with members of the Lubricant Producers Association of Nigeria (Lupan) in Abuja, Nigerias capital city.

We have to have strong surveillance, with your support, to ensure that those who have products in the market have the right products, he said. We also expect that every product must be registered. There is a lot of counterfeiting, and some people use up the cans and then refill and sell [them] as the original products. Registration, part of the original law adopted in 2004, is required for many products in Nigeria to ensure compliance with national standards.

Emmanuel Ekpenyong, head of lubricants for Honeywell Oil and Gas in Lagos, said the new law would make enforcement against substandard lubes more effective.

SON could conduct market raids to confiscate substandard products, make arrests and prosecute dealers, he said. He noted that SON could also conduct random product sampling in the market to check to the degree of compliance with established chemical standards, as well as collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Agency to ensure imported products comply with SONs Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP).

According to Intertek – one of four international accreditation firms that operate the program on behalf of SON- SONCAP is a product conformity scheme whose objective is to help ensure that products exported to Nigeria meet minimum safety requirements. Its goal is to help ensure that Nigerian consumers are not exposed to potentially unsafe and substandard goods.

According to SONs web site, imports into Nigeria are required to undergo verification and testing to receive a SONCAP certificate demonstrating products meet applicable standards and regulations, or a non-conformity report when goods do not comply. Goals include preventing the dumping of substandard goods into the Nigeria market.

However, Ekpenyong added, SON also needs to do a lot of sensitization and awareness programs to educate Nigerians on lubricants, as most unsuspecting buyers know little or nothing about lubricants.

Emeka Obidike, executive secretary of Lupan, agreed, saying, The surveillance by SON comes on the heel of the new act, which ensures that blenders in the country operate within the ambit of the law and in total compliance with regulatory framework and standards.

Obidike, who described the tougher law as a welcome development, said Lupan is in total support of increased surveillance of the Nigerian lubricant market by SON.

The new SON Act makes it mandatory that without SON certification, blenders cannot import base oils. The implication is that before any blender can import base oils into Nigeria – even before he can raise a letter of credit – the blender must provide a SON certification, and on importation, before base oils are cleared at the seaport, blenders must also provide [proof of compliance with] SONCAP, said Obidike.

According to Interteks web site, regulated products arriving at Nigerian ports without the necessary certificate required by SONCAP may be rejected at the port and refused release. The importer will then be required to take back the goods or face delays while the goods are sampled and then tested to safety standards. The importer will be expected to bear all expenses related to this activity.

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