Two Chinese nationals, Taolung Shen and Xu Jing Yau are now telling the police in Lagos all they know about the over N5bn substandard tyre stuffing business which they had been doing in Lagos, Nigeria.
The two were paraded before reporters at the weekend following their arrest, and the sealing of the warehouse where they had been cloning different sizes of tyres under such brand names as Powertrac, Aptany, Harmony, Duraturn, Bearway, City Tour, Winda, Glory, Chachland, City Grand, Grandsonte (Tyre Type) And Sunny (for tricycle) amongst others.
Many of the tyres arrived Nigeria with tyres stuffed into one another, sometimes as much as five stuffed in one, and had been bent and ruptured on several portions and looking weak and slack.
But the Chinese adorned the tyre new labels and shinning linings to create impression of being new and healthy.
The SON, Director-General and Chief Executive, Osita Aboloma who conducted journalists round the warehouse, described the tyres as dead on arrival, adding that allowing such consignments sale amounted to surreptitiously taking away the lives of millions of Nigerians.
He said stuffing tyres through the long sea journey from China to Lagos had already compromised the quality, not to talk of the crude way the tyres were separated on arrival in Nigeria and the poor storage facility, without sufficient aeration, in the warehouse, saying that his agency would not tolerate such.
“SON Directorate of Compliance intercepted one of their trucks on the highway, tracked it and then this. You can see the amount of danger that these people are posing to our people and our economy just because they want to make huge profit on the expense of the lives of Nigerians”, Aboloma said.
He explained that getting to the premises of the company revealed a lot of illicit activities, including re-labelling, high level of stuffing of several tyres into one, tampering with expiry dates and staking the tyres in very adverse conditions.
“it is a clear case of investing millions in illicit business in order to take away the lives of millions of Nigerians. to destroy the lives of millions of Nigerians. If we should allow something like this, it will amount to killing Nigerians”, Aboloma said.
He showed tyres in the stock post-dated January as manufactured date but that were already in the country as at the time of the seizure, despite that it would take months for shipments from China to arrive Nigeria, saying such anticipatory dating had malicious intention
“I want to reiterate that there is no hiding place for those who deal in substandard products as they would be caught and their products confiscated. Today’s is an example”, he said. As much as five tyres were stuffed into one, with many of them already squeezed and weakened, though looking new, and the possibility that once in circulation, consumers may ignorantly take their outward neat looking to mean they are healthy.
“Nothing can be recouped from such stuffed in tyre, no need to test anything because the tyres have already been destroyed on arrival, ” he said
Aboloma thanked SON Directorate of Compliance for discovering the warehouse and other meaningful Nigerians for their volunteering of information to the agency, saying that those arrested in connection with the latest deal would be tried in line with the new SON act and if found guilty prosecuted.
He said his agency was exploring all avenues towards nipping acts like the one under reference in the bud, and would as a matter of need; intensify activities towards market surveillance, inter-agency collaboration, as well as public sensitisation and consumer awareness.
“For us, it is a continuous fight. Currently, we are prosecuting about five cases in different high courts in line with the mandate of the SON, we burn substandard products when there is need to, following laid down procedures in all of these”, he said.