The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Acting Director-General (DG), Mr. Ademola Magbojuri, on Wednesday advocates life imprisonment for those importing and marketing fake and substandard drugs.
He said a bill is before the National Assembly to that effect and will soon be passed on to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
Magbojuri spoke yesterday at a press briefing at the agency’s headquarter in Lagos on the efforts of the agency in to rid the country of counterfeit medical products.
He urged the lawmakers to uphold the agency’s recommendations that perpetrators of such acts be compelled to compensate their victims and also forfeit proceeds of the crime.
Last November 3, a Bill to review the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Cap C34 Laws of the Federation 2004, scaled through the third reading stage at the Senate.
He disclosed that the agency is involved in the prosecution of over 64 counterfeit/fake NAFDAC regulated products cases across the country.
His words: “As part of our renewed effort to rid the country of counterfeit and fake medical products, the agency has been carrying out coordinated nationwide enforcement operations in different parts of the country where large consignments of counterfeit and fake medical products and drinks were impounded.
“Surveillance and enforcement operations at our ports, borders and identified routes used by smugglers have been intensified leading to increased seizures of fake NAFDAC regulated products.
“Just yesterday (Tuesday), NAFDAC at the Federal High Court in Lagos under Justice J. Dagat, secured a five-year conviction against Kenneth Chibuko Chiokwe who imported fake cough syrup. He was convicted under Section 1 (a) of counterfeit and fake drugs and unwholesome processed foods (miscellaneous provisions) act Cap 34 LPN 2004 and punishable under section 3 (1) (a) of the same act.”
He listed other recent convictions secured by NAFDAC for fake drug manufacturers or peddlers including that of Sylvanus Ifeanyi Nwanoro and Osita Paul Ely who bagged five years each, Clara Onah, who bagged seven years, Okwara Emmanuel, who got three years and Oyibo Juliana Madu who got an option of N55, 000 fine for the sale of unregistered wines.
NAFDAC Director of Investigation & Enforcement, Mr Kingsley Ejiofor, urged the public to spread the message on the danger of counterfeit drugs.
Ejiofor identified several constraints faced by the agency including the incessant transfer of investigating police officers involved in prosecuting offenders.
He said: “Sometimes when they transfer them, to get them to come back to prosecute is a problem. Another one is when suspects are granted bail, some of them jump bail and are never found again.
Ejiofor encouraged firms to include NAFDAC in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
“We need all the support we can get, such as vehicles to convey people, materials etc,” he said.