By ANDREW OJIEZEL
THE National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nasarawa and Benue States said it destroyed expired drugs, food, cosmetics, and expired drinks worth N105 million.
The Acting Director-General of NAFDAC, Mrs Yetunde Oni, who made this known at the venue of the joint exercise in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, said that some of the products earmarked for destruction were voluntarily handed over to NAFDAC by various governmental and non-governmental organisations while others were mopped up from open market via enforcement activities and NAFDAC surveillance systems.
Oni, represented by the Director, Special Duties, Alhaji Abubakar Jimoh, said the periodic destruction exercise was one of NAFDAC’s strategies to prevent the circulation of fake, counterfeit medicines and unwholesome products in the country.
“For us in NAFDAC, zero tolerance is what we are aiming for. A lot of damage is being done by counterfeit drugs. A drug counterfeiter is worse than an armed robber; that is why we are pushing for a life sentence for drug counterfeiters at the National Assembly.
“We are optimistic that in the near future, we would have nothing or little to destroy as we work towards ensuring availability of good quality, efficacious, safe and affordable medicines and wholesome regulated products to the Nigerian populace.”
She, however, expressed regret that in spite of the agency’s laudable efforts such as destroying fake products worth N30 billion in the last three years, counterfeiters had continued to adopt different strategies to evade arrest and enjoy proceeds of their corrupt practices.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Mr Michael Attah, the Nasarawa State Coordinator of NAFDAC, said the joint destruction exercise was a testimony that NAFDAC was working toward ridding the Nigerian society of spurious, fake and counterfeit products.
“This exercise today is a message and a signal to all and sundry who are manufacturing and importing any NAFDAC regulated products that are substandard, fake or counterfeit, to desist from such activities or face the music.”
The coordinator said that the total amount of products destroyed was worth over N105 million with 80 per cent of the products from Benue, because the agency that had destroyed products worth N24 million in Nasarawa six months earlier.
He added that to efficiently comb the nooks and cranny of Nasarawa State of illegal and unwholesome NAFDAC products, the agency had set up an outpost office in Karu local government area of the state, to regulate growing commercial activities in the area.
Attah then appealed to all and sundry to report any suspected activities of illegal manufacturers and dealers of unregistered products to any NAFDAC office for prompt action.
“I wish to advice and appeal to the conscience of all Nigerians who are NAFDAC stakeholders or importers of NAFDAC regulated products to please ensure that they manufacture or import genuine, wholesome and registered products, so that Nigerians will enjoy good health.”
In a vote of thanks, Mr Francis Owu, that Benue Coordinator of NAFDAC, expressed appreciation to all stakeholders who made it possible for the counterfeit drugs and unwholesome products to be mopped up and destroyed.
He, however, appealed for closer and stronger collaboration with the general public in the area of information dissemination.
“NAFDAC agents are not spirits. It is the information you give us that leads to this kind of exercise.”