The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by Sunshine Chemical Development Company Limited against Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on account that the agency had acted in bad faith in rejecting the company’s application to import sugar unfortified with Vitamin A.
Justice B. F. M. Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had ruled that SON merely acted pursuant to the lawful directives of its supervising Ministry and in accordance with the Vitamin-A Food Fortification Regulations of 2005, in denying the application of the said to import sugar unfortified with Vitamin A into the country.
Dissatisfied with the ruling however, Sunshine Chemical Development Company Limited had gone to the Court of Appeal seeking to overturn the judgment.
The appellate court, in a decision by a 3-man panel of justices led by Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewil, held that SON acted neither in bad faith nor outside the scope and limits of its powers under the enabling statute, regulations and directives from its supervisory ministry.
The Court of Appeal also held that the company’s cause of action was undoubtedly and irredeemably statute barred by the virtue and operations of the provisions of Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act, LFN 2004.
The case was dismissed for being statute barred.
The spokesperson of SON, Mrs. Foluso Bolaji, explained that, “by virtue of the provisions of the Vitamin A Food Fortification Regulations of 2005, importation of sugar not fortified with Vitamin A without the leave of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment is prohibited.”
According to her, in 2005, the company had applied for an approval from the standards regulatory agency for the importation of 7,500 metric tonnes of sugar unfortified with Vitamin A.
The company was duly informed of the federal government’s policy on sugar importation and advised that by the intervention of the Presidential Technical Committee on Sugar Importation, three companies were permitted to coordinate the importation of sugar unfortified with Vitamin A for manufacturing purposes with the condition that the final products will be fortified with Vitamin A.
Bolaji explained that the request from the company was forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, which confirmed the position of government and advised the company to re-route its request through any of the three companies approved by the federal government to coordinate such importation.
But dissatisfied with the position, the firm instituted a lawsuit against SON.
The SON spokesperson said the judgment of the Appeal Court cemented the fact that SON as an organisation was living up to its mandate of promoting standardisation and quality assurance with the aim of protecting Nigeria and Nigerians from the adverse effect of substandard goods.
She stressed that the organisation works tirelessly to assist business owners improve their businesses through standardisation within the ambit of the law.
Bolaji also explained that SON has graduated from just being standards providers and regulator to being business facilitators in line with the federal government’s Ease of Doing Business initiative.
She however reiterated the commitment of the Director-General /Chief Executive of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim to supporting and encouraging local industries in an effort to revitalising the nation’s economy.
Culled from THISDAY