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 are explicable in terms of the token chargeable for the service.
In a release made available to AgroNigeria, NAQS was responding to a complaint by a Nigerian traveler, Simisade Satgo Olorode, who in a live video now viral, accused the agency of extorting N2,000 from travelers 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, inspects and certifies all agricultural products to ascertain their wholesomeness while adding that its officials are 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, www.naqs.gov.ng and NAQS remits 25% of the user fees it collects to the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government.”
NAQS said its primary mandate is to prevent the introduction, spread, and establishment of pests and diseases in the country and minimize 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 (NESG), 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 (POS) machines available at every NAQS stationed center to avoid such situations.
NAQS has however stated that it has three standard modes of payment for the user fees, including bank draft, cheques, and Remita. The agency urged Nigerians to adopt any of the three options for payment to complete the inspection and certification protocol.