Nigeria: Weights & Measures Regulations – The Need For Clarity

Last Updated: 31 May 2016
Article by Tamuno Atekebo

Sometime in 2012, the Federal Government published the Weights and Measures (Legal Metrology and Related Services) Regulations ("Regulations"). The Regulations were made by the then Minister of Trade and Investment ("Minister") pursuant to Section 47 of the Weights and Measures Act, Cap W3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 ("Act"). The objective of the Regulations is to prescribe fees for services rendered by staff of the Weights and Measures Department of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment ("Department") to various businesses.

In recent times, some businesses have questioned the astronomical fees introduced under the Regulations and the expansion of the powers of the Department. For instance, the Regulations prescribed fees to be charged for oil and gas, electricity, water, and telecommunication sectors. More specifically, the Regulations prescribed a fee of 0.175% of the Free on Board value on hydrocarbon commodities for export. In this regard, one pertinent question is whether the role of the Department statutorily extends to the regulation of hydrocarbon exports and whether the Minister, can, by regulation extend the powers or functions of the Department.


The Act was enacted to ensure uniformity of standards of measurement throughout Nigeria. The Act sets out the lawful weights and measures applicable in Nigeria and prescribes the mechanism for inspection and enforcement of the use of such weights and measures as well as the manner in which weight and measure equipment or instruments are to be tested, confirmed and approved for use, by authorized inspectors. Under the Act, the Department may on the application of any authority or person and on payment of such fees as may be prescribed, accept for testing as to accuracy or for report or both (a) any article used or proposed to be used as a standard of a unit of measurement; and (b) any weighing or measuring machine.

The Minister is charged with maintaining secondary and tertiary standards which shall consist of measures or weights provided under the Act which collectively are known as the Nigerian trade standards. The Minister is also empowered under Section 47 of the Act to make regulations prescribing the fees to be paid on the stamping, marking, verifying, repairing or adjusting of any weight, measure, weighing instrument or measuring instrument by an inspector; and prescribing the tests to be applied for the purpose of ascertaining the accuracy and efficiency of weights, measures, weighing instruments and measuring instruments.

The Act makes provision for the Department to weigh or measure any good submitted to it for that purpose, or test the accuracy of any weighing or measuring equipment. It should be noted that such weighing or measuring equipment or instrument can include those used in the petroleum industry. From the provisions of the Act, it can be stated that the Act primarily vests in the Department and the Minister the power to set standards for weights and measures and to certify weighing and measuring equipment or instrument that are used for trade and other activities. All other powers or functions of the Department or the Minister should be related to the primary function of setting weights and measures' standards and certifying or verifying equipment used for such purposes. It is trite law that a statute should be construed as a whole and should be given an interpretation consistent with the object and general context of the entire statute. In the interpretation of statutes, the courts have adopted a liberal and purposive approach to give effect to the true intention of the lawmakers. In that sense, the entire statute would be considered and the general object meant to be secured by the law should be considered. The courts will therefore consider the provisions of the entire law to determine the scope of the powers and functions of the Minister and the Department.

From the provisions of the Act, there is no express provision that grants the Department or the Minister any role in relation to the export of oil and gas. It is arguable that some role may be implied under the Act regarding the Department in the export of oil and gas or any other good considering the fact that the Department is responsible for setting standards for weights and measures and also certifying weighing and measuring equipment. Assuming the argument on the implied role of the Department is acceptable, such role at best will be limited to certifying any weighing or measuring equipment that is used in the process of exporting oil and gas. In this case, the role of the Department ought not to extend to the actual daily measurement of the quantity of any product to be exported. It is important to note that a subsidiary legislation cannot be used to amend the principal legislation or expand powers granted under the principal legislation.

It is also important to note that the Petroleum Act and the regulations made thereunder have expressly vested the Department of Petroleum Resources with the responsibility of measuring the quantity and quality of oil and gas including at oil terminals and for export purposes. Considering the importance of the oil and gas sector to Nigeria's economy, if it was the intention of the legislature to extend the role of the Department or the Minister to include the measurement of oil and gas exports, such detail would have been expressly stated in the Act.


The Pre-Shipment Inspection of Exports Act, Cap P25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 ("Pre-Shipment Act") provides for the inspection of goods in Nigeria prior to their shipment to a place outside Nigeria. Under the Pre-Shipment Act, all oil and non-oil goods are liable to pre-shipment inspection by an inspecting agent with respect to their quality, quantity and price comparison. The Pre-Shipment Act does not define oil goods but defines oil exports. The term Oil exports is defined to include "Crude Oil and Petroleum Products". Section 16(3) of the Pre-Shipment Act provides for the role of the Department in the pre-shipment export process as follows:

"In addition to the specific function conferred under subsection (2) of this section, the Weights and Measures Division of the Federal Ministry of Commerce shall continue to carry out functions relating to the calibration of crude oil prior to the export thereof in collaboration with the inspecting agents appointed under section 12 of this Act".

Neither the word "calibration" nor "calibrate" was defined in either the Pre-Shipment Act or the Act. However, the Oxfords Dictionary provides one of the meanings of calibrate as "correlate the readings of (an instrument) with those of a standard in order to check the instrument's accuracy".

Based on the provisions of Section 16(3) of the Pre-Shipment Act, it can be said that the Pre-Shipment Act does not vest any new role on the Department in the export process of crude oil as the section merely states that the Department "shall continue to carry out functions"... It follows therefore that if the Department was not carrying out such functions or if there is no legal basis for the Department to carry out the certain functions, then the Department cannot use the provisions of Section 16(3) of the Pre-Shipment Act as a basis to assume a role in the export of crude oil. If the Department uses the provisions of Section 16(3) as the only basis for its role in the export of crude oil, then it can be challenged as the provision assumes that the Department already plays a role in the export process. It may also be the case that the role of the Department is a matter of practice.

In any event, it should be noted that the role of the Department is limited to carrying out functions relating specifically to the calibration of crude oil prior to being exported. Although "functions relating to calibration of crude oil" are not specifically provided in the Act, the Regulations which provide for the fees to be paid by all sectors of the Nigerian economy for legal metrology and related services rendered by members of staff of the Department provides that the fees contained therein shall apply to verification or calibration of devices, including flow meters, automatic tank gauges, test meters and other hydrocarbon flow measuring devices or instruments for measurement and weighing of hydrocarbon commodities flow in trade transactions in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry of Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of Section 16(3) of the Pre-Shipment Act. The Regulations also describes the fee as "a special service driven fee" which can be interpreted to mean that the fee should be service based, for instance when the Department tests or calibrates a weighing or measuring equipment.

From the provisions of Regulation 52 of the Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations with regards to the process for measuring and weighing of crude oil, calibration with regards to crude oil relates to the calibration of equipment or appliances for measuring or weighing crude oil or gas. It appears that the role of the Department, if any, in the export of crude oil or gas should be limited to the calibration of weighing and measuring equipment or instruments and should not extend to the actual day to day measurement or monitoring of the measurement of the crude oil being exported.


From the provisions of the Act, the primary function of the Minister and the Department is to set standards for weights and measures and in addition, certify weighing and measuring equipment or instruments. The role of the Department does not extend to the actual day to day weighing or measuring of goods including oil and gas exports. The Pre-Shipment Act does not create new powers or extend the powers of the Minister or the Department in relation to their role or duties in the export process of oil and gas. It can therefore be argued that the Act and the Pre-Shipment Act do should be used as the basis for the expansion of the powers of the Department beyond the specific provisions of the law particularly the Act. Neither can such expansion of the powers of the Department or the Minister be achieved through a subsidiary legislation. A judicial construction of the various legislations relating to weights and measures will provide clarity as to the statutory functions and powers of the Minister and the Department and it is hoped that the question will come up before the law courts soon.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions