Don’t harass legitimate business operators, importers in Anambra-Soludo warns agencies

Hon Commissioner Christian Udechukwu

The Anambra state Commissioner for Industry, Hon Christian Udechukwu has informed the leadership of Nnewi Automobile and Importers Association that under laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, no person(s) or agency has powers to seal or close any business in Anambra state without compliance or following all due legal processes.

The Commissioner who was represented by the Special Assistant to Governor Charles Soludo on Commerce and Industry, Mr Eloka Maduekwe disclosed this to the association under the leadership of Mr Austine Jideofor in a meeting with some taskforce members of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) accused of sealing some importers warehouses in Nnewi.

He said before any action could be taken that there should be a letter highlighting the specific offences committed by the business owner, and fully allowing the business owner the rights of self defence with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. He insisted that no business should be sealed without, first of all, obtaining a Court order issued from a named presiding Judge, for a named specific offense(s) for the said specific business as may be named in the court document approving for the business to be sealed for a period to be specified by the same named Judge, of a named Court with specific contact details for the purposes of verification of the said Court order.

Commissioner Udechukwu said a situation where some importers’ businesses in Anambra state were sealed by some agents for almost a month without proof of wrongdoing was totally unacceptable and would not be tolerated by the government of Anambra state.

“Any staff of any agency who goes against this position will be liable personally, jointly and severally with his or her named agency to legal remedies including prosecution, and liable to pay for any named damages to business owners or to compensate for reputational loss and or loss of income to the affected business owner whose business was sealed without proper due legal process and without first obtaining a specific legal Court order authorizing such an extreme action.

“Any person or person(s) who violates such a legal process, as advised by Anambra state, will have the full rights of the citizen, business owner, and liabilities for loss of income and or damage to reputation fully enforced against them and their agency by the affected business owners without prejudice.

“Anyone caught or implicated as an accomplice in the same illegal closure of any legitimate business saga will also be jointly and severally liable to lawful prosecution. And this specific business protection policy advice includes the leadership of any organized group or associations that are negligent in their duty of care and protection of their members from abuse or violations by anyone or agency.

“All legal compliance disputes must first be settled in good faith and without bitterness or disruption to normal business operations, but where all good faith efforts fail, every entrepreneur, importer or industrialist has a right to get legal help and seek protection from any abuse.

“For any business to be sealed either by any federal or state agency, the said agency must be acting in full compliance of the laws of Nigeria including the declaration of crimes committed as well as proof of wrong doing and present the same proof of wrong doing to a Judge presiding over a Court of competent jurisdiction, and thereafter, request to be issued with a specific legal warrant or an order of Court instructing or authorizing the said federal or state agency concerned to proceed to exercise authority to seal the accused persons business for any specific period of time, as may also have been determined, by the Judge of the same Court of competent Jurisdiction.

“Any business that feels that its rights have been unjustly violated must get legal counsel for advice on its legal options, and to seek to enforce its own rights, and to get advice of any available legal remedies and claim to damages that may be available to the business owner.

“No business in Anambra state should operate with fear or prejudice from any agent or actors and every citizen is bound by law and civic duty to perform all legitimate mandatory acts of compliance for the purpose of operating their businesses, and to get all their statutory documents in place, as may be legally required of them by the laws of Nigeria.

“At the same time, all citizens operating their businesses legitimately have a right to pursue their happiness without any prejudice or fear from anyone or official agents operating within Anambra state.

“For further advice on how to operate your legitimate business activities without fear or prejudice, please contact the office of the Commissioner for Industry or the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Government of Anambra State, at the Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka.

“Mr Governor, Prof Charles Soludo CFR wishes for all legitimate business owners who are in compliance with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to continue to pursue their lawful business in Anambra state with full happiness, and without fear or prejudice, “he concluded.

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