By Chioma Umeha
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Tuesday in Lagos , said, it carried out surveillance which led to a successful raid of Ezedams Enterprises Nig. Ltd on Badagry Expressway, Ojo which is into illegal production of counterfeit alcoholic beverages.
The Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, said that a thorough search of the facility led to the discovery of several drums of Ethyl Alcohol; Rayner’s Flavouring Agents ; unidentified chemicals in several jerry-cans and packaging materials.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday in NAFDAC Oshodi office, in Lagos, was the Head of NAFDAC’s Investigation and Enforcement, Mr. Kingsley Ejiofor, who spoke on behalf of the agency’s DG added that the facility has been sealed with investigation on -going.
In addition, he said that following intelligence received on a transport vehicle containing suspected counterfeit Peak Milk products bound for Lagos from the East, the Agency set up surveillance from about 4am on the February 17, 2017 which led to successful interception of the vehicle and its contents as it was arriving Lagos.
He recalled that on February 24, 2017, Mr. Daniel Ezekwelu was arrested by the Federal Task Force on Fake and Counterfeit Products for production of fake water for injection within two compounds at Ojoto village near Nnewi, Anambra state.
Continuing he said : “During the raid, two underaged girls were found filling and sealing the fake water for injection under the cover of Mr. Daniel Ezekwelu. The production takes place between 8:00am and 3:00pm every day, while the finished products are transported to the market at night.
Items recovered include: plastic containers, gas cylinders and packs of the fake water for injection labelled “Sterilised water for injection BP” with manufacturing date 2015 and expiry date 2020 and said to be produced by Hossanna Laboratories Limited, Surrey. The product is packed as 100 x 10ml vials. The suspect made useful statement to the Police. Investigation is ongoing.”
According to him, the agency also paraded suspected fraudsters for forgery of the agency’s documents and impersonation.
He said that the agency received three different complaints from three countries about alleged impersonation and scam by some Nigerians that posed as NAFDAC staff to process registration documents for intending importers of regulated products.
According to Ejiofor, one of the complaints which came from the High Commission of Nigeria in New Delhi, India was reported on behalf of a company called, Bharti Phosphates.
The second complain was from Dr Yaser Dezhkam, the Chief Executive Officer of Dr Haps company, a German company and manufacturer of pet food supplement.
The third was from one Mr. Akrem from Tunisia who wanted to confirm whether he should pay money to a company in Nigeria called Samjoe Ventures for the registration and shipment of 5,000 metric tons of calcium carbonate, the Head of NAFDAC’s Investigation and Enforcement added.
Explaining further he said: “All the cases were diligently investigated and it was discovered that the three cases were hatched and executed by the same syndicate. This professional criminal group is an international gang headed by Mr. Eze Okoronkwo, a Nigerian who is resident in Aba, Abia state.
“The other Nigerian collaborators are: Mr. Ndukwe Darlington Ukonu, Mr. Nwabugo Okoro, Miss Ohanaokwu Chinonyen, and one Mr. Smart who resides in India. Their Indian collaborators are Miss Kokula Hongva, Hoi Ching Suamtak, Tongso M. Anal and Aneng Mate.
“The other countries whose nationals allegedly collaborated and acted as brokers to the syndicate are the Philipines, Tunisia, El-Salvador, the US, Canada, Mauritania, Denmark, Mexico, Greece, Switzerland, Indonesia, and Republic of South Korea.
“The syndicate had collected the sum of $13, 640. 00, while there were plans to collect further sum of $57, 720. 00. We believe this is a tip of the iceberg.”
The acting DG further revealed that the mode of operation of the group involves the sourcing of brokers with Dollar or Euro account; with a promise that a broker will be entitled to 30 percent – 40 per cent of the proceeds of the venture .
Explaining further, the acting DG said: “They contact the companies thereafter through known websites – company or group websites, example, European Union-Distributors website. The victim is then gradually fleeced, while being presented with fake documents.”
Enumerating some of the fake NAFDAC documents produced by the syndicate, he said they include: Certificate of Registration, some bearing the forged signature of the acting Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde O. Oni; Notification of products approval; Confirmation of file number for immediate issuance of NAFDAC certificates among others.
Maintaining that NAFDAC is doing everything to ensure that only safe medicine and wholesome food of the right quality are sold to Nigerians, the Acting DG solicited for the support of health practitioners, community leaders, religious leaders, the Media and all stakeholders to continue to educate their wards and family members to desist from patronizing quacks and hawkers of medicines on the street.
However, he advised consumers of NAFDAC regulated products to be watchful of drug, food and other regulated products they purchase and obtain receipt of payment for same adding, “The general public should not hesitate to report any suspicious activities within their environment to the nearest NAFDAC office”.