The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) says there is no iota of truth in the allegation that its officers extort money from foodstuff dealers at certain quarantine posts in the country.
Responding to claims by the Foodstuff Dealers Association of Nigeria (FSDAN) that the quarantine posts along some highways are ‘’extortion points’’, the agency said the accusation of extortion against NAQS officers is borne out of bad faith.
In a statement in Abuja , the Head of Media, Communication and Strategies, NAQS, Chigozie Nwodo, said it is a standard practice for a 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.
Nwodo noted that as the single point of command for all agricultural quarantine activities in Nigeria, NAQS has a duty and responsibility to control and prevent the introduction, spread and establishment of diseases and pests of animals, plants as well as aquatic resources.
He also stressed that NAQS is obligated by its enabling laws to police the Nigerian agricultural economy and to safeguard it from all discernible threats that could undermine its integrity.
Nwodo added that the agency’s officers at the quarantine posts collect only User Fees, the service charge payable for the inspection and certification of agricultural products. He said the user fees are legal and provided for in the NAQS (Establishment) Act.
He also explained that the User Fees on agricultural commodities were agreed upon and approved by stakeholders involved in the IGP Implementation Committee on Curtailment of Cattle Rustling in Nigeria and on Multiple Taxation.
According to Nwodo, NAQS operates under Category B of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2008 and remits 25% of the User Fees to the consolidated revenue fund of the Federal Government.
He explained that the sitting of a quarantine post is the exclusive prerogative of the Federal Government as provided by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (Establishment) Act 2018 and the Animal Disease Control Act of 1988 and that the positioning is done with the approval of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
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