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Court dismisses appeal suit against SON over unfortified sugar importation

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by Sunshine Chemical Development Company Limited against the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) claiming that the quality regulator had acted in bad faith in rejecting its application to import sugar unfortified with Vitamin A.

Dissatisfied with the ruling of Justice B. F. M. Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that SON had 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 to import sugar unfortified with Vitamin A into the country, Sunshine Chemical had gone to the Court of Appeal seeking to overturn the judgment.

The appellate court, in a decision by a three-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, said: “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.”

Bolaji said in 2005, Sunshine Chemical had applied for approval from the SON for the importation of 7,500 metric tonnes of sugar unfortified with Vitamin A.

…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 company was duly informed of the Federal Government of Nigeria’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 also explained that the request from the company was forwarded to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, who confirmed the position of the 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.

Dissatisfied with the position, Sunshine Chemical Development Company Limited instituted a case against SON.

Bolaji noted that the judgment of the Appeal Court has cemented the fact that SON, as an organization, is living up to its mandate of promoting standardisation and quality assurance aimed to protect Nigeria and Nigerians from the adverse effect of substandard goods.

She said the Organisation works tirelessly to assist business owners to improve their businesses through standardisation within the ambit of the law.

She added that SON has grown from just being a standards provider and regulator to being a business facilitator in line with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business initiative.

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