By Tom Okpe
The House of Representatives has proposed 5 year jail term for trading on sub-standard life threatening products.
This as the House passed through second reading, a bill to repeal the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, (SON) Act, 2015 and enact the SON Act, 2023 to provide additional functions for the organisation, create new offences and increase penalties for offences relating to standardisation at plenary on Thursday.
The Bill sponsored by Julius Ihonvbere, (APC, Edo) the amendment prescribed criminalisation of the production, importation, distribution, dealing in substandard life-endangering products and impose a jail term of five years without an option of fine on persons convicted.
The proposed legislation mandates SON to publish annually, products deemed as life-endangering, and proposes a 50% increment across board for all fines under the old act to align with current economic realities.
Leading debate on the bill Ihonvbere lamented that some sections in the previous Act affect the rights of people, such as reduction in the duration for which SON can seize and detain hazardous goods without an order of Court from 90 days to 45 days.
He also said the power granted the organisation under the old Act to destroy hazardous goods without an order of Court has been expunged.
“Some of these challenges range from inadequate penalties for standards-related offences to create sufficient deterrence for offenders.
It’s also, to limit resources for funding of ever-increasing cost of standards development and conformity assessment activities.
“The instant proposition for the repeal of the SON ACT NO.14 of 2015 is necessitated by the need to reposition the Standards Organisation of Nigeria to attain its full potential in areas of standardisation and quality control.
“SON being the National Standards Body. The proposed amendments will checkmate the threats posed to the national economy by importation and manufacturing of substandard products that lead to avoidable deaths and monumental economic losses in the Country.
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“The journey of quality, as often said is without end. An analysis of the trend amongst substandard products peddlers is that the imposition of fines, no matter how steep, barely act, as a deterrence to them.
“The idea of a mandatory custodial sentence for certain offences especially those relative to life-endangering products is the most effective tool to deter offenders,” Ihonvbere.
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