The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has advised intending travellers with animals and agricultural products such as vegetables and fruits, to arrive early at airports for proper screening and certification.
Dr Abiodun Akinjo, Director, Animal Quarantine of the agency, gave the advice in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Abuja.
Akinjo condemned the rate of late arrival by rospective travellers at airports.
He noted that in order to perform check-in operations in time, international airlines usually opened check-in counter four hours before departure and advised passengers on such flights to be at the airport three hours before departure.
According to him, early arrival is to grant travellers ample time for agricultural products’ inspection and certification by quarantine service.
He said early arrival also ensured personal profiling and other procedures by the Department for State Security Service (DSS), Customs, Immigration, Airport Authorities and others.
“This is the global practice at international airports,” he said.
Akinjo said that such process would guard against anyone travelling with unwholesome items that could bring the nation’s name to disrepute.
“It is common knowledge that passengers love to travel with indigenous foods. The handling, processing and packaging of such foods might be compromised in such a way as to allow for the introduction of pests, diseases and contaminants.
“It is for this reason that the agency must inspect such food items to ensure they are safe for consumption.
“Travellers are, therefore, advised to always declare all agricultural products in their custody for quarantine inspection and certification.
“NAQS officers will justify why food items are rejected but if any food items by-pass inspection and certification by NAQS, they are subject to seizure and destruction at the final destination Border Inspection Post (BIP) at the expense of the owner,” the director said.
Akinjo noted that such seizure would be recorded against Nigeria, adding that if the receiving country was an EU country, then, the report would be circulated to the 28 member countries, irrespective of the quantity.
“What matters most is the phyto-sanitary status of such food items,” he said.
Akinjo, therefore, noted that the four hours was sufficient for passengers to submit, process, and address all issues before their departure.
According to him, when travellers arrive 30 minutes prior to flights departure, they are more likely to miss their flights as the time was inadequate for necessary airport procedures.
Edited by Folorunso Poroye/Chukwudi Ekezie