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April 19, 2017

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Nigerian Agency Nabs Counterfeiters

The Standards Organization of Nigeria arrested a lubricant counterfeiting syndicate in a town near the country’s capital city of Abuja, an agency spokesman told Lube Report.

Osita Aboloma, director-general of the agency, had previously explained to local media that the syndicate operated by using discarded lubricant containers for packaging fake and substandard lubricants, which it sold to lubricant consumers. The agency is one of the regulatory agencies for the lubricant industry in Nigeria.

Signed in late 2015, the Standards Organization of Nigeria Act of 2015 put more teeth in the government’s ability to crack down on substandard lubricants, empowering regulators to arrest and prosecute offenders.

The original SON Act of 2004 – which applies to but isn’t limited to lubricant products – empowered the standards and regulatory agency to inspect products and to seize and destroy those not complying with national standards, but it did not authorize the agency to arrest offenders on the spot.

Emeka Obidike, executive secretary of the Lubricant Producers Association of Nigeria described the arrest as a welcome development but urged the agency to intensify its action to stem the tide of adulterated lubricant products into the country.

“This is what the stakeholders have been asking for because the activities of these adulterators

have been on the increase. We have argued that SON is not doing enough because it is their responsibility to ensure that adulterated products are completely eliminated in the country,” said Obidike. “If SON steps up its regulatory role, the economy will be better for it, and manufacturers of lubricants will be able to produce and employ more Nigerians.”

However, Emmanuel Ekpenyong, head of lubricants for Hogl Energy Ltd. in Lagos, said the rising spate of adulteration and counterfeiting of engine oil is a consequence of the greenback’s scarcity and raw material costs rising without corresponding increases in finished goods prices. This development resulted in some distributors and middlemen in the lubricant chain taking on to new roles as unauthorized blenders, Ekpenyong said.

“The market share left vacant by the majors/independents, who have been stifled out of business, has been taken by these illegal blenders,” he noted.

The economic recession in the country has forced companies to patronize unbranded lubricant products on the market, a practice he said was not hitherto feasible in the country.

“Before now companies would insist on known brands but not anymore. Also lube blenders, in a haste to reduce production cost, are even buying unknown lubricants additives ahead of established lube additives,” said Ekpenyong.