The National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has defended the fees collected at Nigerian airports for inspection and certification of agricultural products by its officials.
The agency stated that the fees were explicable in terms of the token chargeable for the service.
In a release made available to this newspaper this week, NAQS responded to a complaint by a Nigerian traveller, Simisade Satgo Olorode, who in a live video accused the agency of extorting N2,000 from travellers for inspection of agricultural commodities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.
Responding to the claim, the agency noted that its officials stationed across all ports of entry, including the airports, seaports and land borders, inspect and certify all agricultural products to ascertain their wholesomeness while adding that its officials were performing their legitimate functions.
The agency said: “NAQS inspects agricultural items intended for export and issues a phytosanitary certificate when the product is determined to be safe and free of pests and contamination.
“Please note that export in our book covers all overseas-bound materials, even if such items are meant for non-commercial purposes.
“The fees that you paid are explicable in terms of the token chargeable for the service of inspection and certification of agricultural products by NAQS.
“It may interest you to know that the user fees are on our website.”
NAQS said its primary mandate was to prevent the introduction, spread, and establishment of pests and diseases into the country and minimise all associated risks to the Nigerian agricultural economy.
According to the agency, it also ensures that all products exported from Nigeria satisfy the requirements of the International Plant Protection Convention and the phytosanitary measures of the destination countries.
Also weighing in on the issue, the Director-General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Asue Ighodalo, faulted the collection of cash payment by the officials of NAQS, rather than automated modes.
He further urged the agency to make Point-Of-Service machines available at every NAQS stationed centre to avoid such situations.
NAQS has. however, stated that it had three standard modes of payment for the user fees, including bank draft, cheques and through Remita.
The agency urged Nigerians to adopt any of the three options for payment to complete the inspection and certification protocol.
Source: New Telegraph