Enforcement Officers of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) with the support of the Security Joint Task Force sealed about 30 shops containing suspected substandard and compromised new tyres at the Apo Tyre Market in Abuja.
A statement from SON signed by the Head of Media, Mr. Maji Aileku said that the operation was led by Director of Standards Development, Mr. Dauda Yakubu.
TheFact Nigeria learned that the owners of the seized products and sealed shops while being prosecuted, would be given a fair hearing as provided in the Organisation’s Standard Operating Procedure.
Meanwhile, the SON management had indicated that it would subject the matter to due legal process as usual.
The statement said that the operation was carried out in the early hours as the traders were settling down to the business of the day amidst subdued protests and pleadings with the leaders of the SON and the security teams.
It was also learned that the entire area of the market was cordoned off by tough-looking security operatives providing cover while the SON Enforcement Officers combed the Tyre Market for supposedly new but already compromised tyres, wrapped for sale to unsuspecting consumers and motorists.
Three truckloads of the suspected substandard tyres were driven away by the SON Enforcement Team.
The team had sent a message to the market leaders to direct their appeals and complaints to the SON Management.
Some of the traders were heard asking aloud why the tyres were not apprehended at the points of entry while others still, wondered why new tyres produced in 2021 and 2022 could be said to be substandard.
Fielding questions from Journalists after the exercise, leader of the SON Team, Mr Dauda Yakubu said that the action was predicated on detailed information on the prevalence of supposedly new but already compromised tyres in the market.
The Director said that the action was in the exercise of the Organisation’s powers as provided in the SON Act No. 14 of 2015 to remove suspected substandard products from circulation, investigate the source and prosecute Standards infractions.
Mr. Yakubu also said that SON’s previous effort to remove the suspected substandard tyres from circulation in November 2021 ahead of the yuletide celebrations was violently resisted by the traders, with injuries to some of its staff and damage to many of its operational vehicles and hired trucks.
Mr. Yakubu said that these necessitated SON’s request to the Security Joint Task Force to protect Nigerian consumers from the imminent dangers from the continuous circulation and sales of the suspected substandard tyres.
He said: “It was also in fulfilment of the promise by the SON Director-General, Mallam Farouk Salim to leave no stone unturned in protecting Nigerians by removing substandard products from circulation wherever they are found”.
Mr. Yakubu lamented that many automobile accidents had been caused by supposedly new tyres that bursted on motion as such tyres may have been compromised in the course of importation and or smuggling into the country through the stuffing of four or five into one to evade payment of appropriate duties and taxes to government.
While displaying several samples of the seized tyres with imminent signs of squeezed and rough edges, Mr. Yakubu said that these were due to the application of force during the stuffing and un-stuffing of the tyres.
He stated that such tyres posed grave danger to motorists and passengers, and had led to avoidable accidents, injuries and loss of lives of many Nigerians.
The SON Director, Standards Development charged motorists and consumers to pay closer attention to tyres before purchase by looking out for rough edges as signs of forceful stuffing and un-stuffing, change of week and year of manufacture as well as rough drills and paintings on the surface of the Tyres.
Mr. Yakubu said that these were signs that such tyres even if they looked new, may have been compromised and thus dangerous to the users.
While speaking on further steps to be taken by SON, Mr. Yakubu said that samples of the tyres were earlier bought and subjected to laboratory tests and analysis before the raid.
He said that more samples from those confiscated would still be subjected to the same procedure to enable the Organisation make informed decisions based on scientific evidence.
Speaking on why the tyres were not apprehended at the points of entry, he explained that the law was targeted at consumer safety, necessitating the removal of the suspected products from circulation first while investigating the source.
Mr. Yakubu said that such stuffed tyres had in the past, been discovered to come in either through smuggling or wrong declaration and circumvention of the SONCAP procedure to ascertain the conformity to the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS 252:2017) for New Pneumatic Passenger Car Tyres.