The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has debunked an extortion allegation made against its officials at some major duty posts of the country by the foodstuff Dealers Association of Nigeria (FSDAN) .
In a statement released by the Head of Media, Communication and Strategies of the agency, Dr. Chigozie Nwodo, remarked that ‘’it is a standard practice for national agricultural quarantine authority to subject agricultural commodities being conveyed from one part of the country to another to inspection and to quarantine items that show any clinical signs of disease infection or pest infestation.’’
Dr. Nwodo noted that ’’as the single point of command for all agricultural quarantine activities in Nigerian, NAQS has a duty and responsibility to control and prevent the introduction, spread and establishment of diseases and pests of animals, plants and aquatic resources. NAQS is obligated by its enabling laws to police the Nigerian agricultural economy and to safeguard it from all discernible threats that can undermine its integrity.’’
The statement said it was imperative for NAQS to established the inter-state control posts within the North Central Zone of the country to mitigate risks of the spread of diseases and pests all over the country saying that vehicles carrying agricultural commodities from the far North pass through that axis to the South and vice versa adding that only user fees and service charge for inspection and certification of agricultural products are legally collected by the act establishing NAQS.
It was emphasized that NAQS did not require additional payment when a truck load has a valid receipt and movement permit for a specific route on a particular trip. Upon sighting the document, all quarantine posts on that route pass the truck without further check thereby calling on all states government not to station their revenue collectors on the federal high ways.
He said that NAQS is pro-business in orientation and cannot levy multiple taxes on agricultural products. The Agency is one of the key drivers of the implementation of the Executive Order 001 on the Ease of Doing Business. This is particularly why NAQS is insisting that state government not station their revenue collectors on the federal highways.
The statement also condemned the food dealers’ blackmail on NAQS pointing that the union is fond of violently obstructing the conduct of routine quarantine procedures. They have refused to change their ways in spite of the several meetings and sensitization engagements the agency had initiated to win their peaceful cooperation.