The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has closed down 240 shops at Cemetery Road Market in Aba, Abia State. The crackdown, which occurred in the initial two weeks of December 2023, resulted in the confiscation of counterfeit drugs and other products valued at over N700 million, according to Prof. Moji Adeyeye, the Director General of NAFDAC.
Expressing concern over the escalating number of counterfeiters across the country, Adeyeye emphasized the need for citizens to exercise caution in their purchases. She pointed out that counterfeit products, including beverages and consumables, pose severe and enduring health risks to consumers.
The recent raid, part of a series of operations nationwide, targeted a network of counterfeiters involved in the production of a wide range of beverages. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines, such as Schnapps, Dry Gin, Hennessy, Four Cousins, Chelsea, London Dry Gin, and Gordons, were among the counterfeited products. Additionally, non-alcoholic beverages like Eva wine and Coca-Cola products fell prey to these illegal activities.
Adeyeye revealed that the clandestine operations of the counterfeiters included the revalidation of expired products, conducted in unsuitable environments with impure water. The crackdown involved weeks of intelligence gathering, leading to a well-executed sting operation that exposed the entrenched criminal activities within the market.
During the operation, 240 shops were forcibly closed, and a staggering 1,500 cartons of counterfeit products were destroyed. The seized goods, valued at approximately N700 million, included 300 cartons. Law enforcement apprehended 10 individuals at the crime scene, who will now face legal consequences.
Adeyeye urged Nigerians to adopt a cautious approach when purchasing beverages, advising them to favor reputable supermarkets over roadside stalls. She cautioned against deals that seem too good to be true, as such offers may involve counterfeit products. Emphasizing the importance of product packaging, she urged consumers to scrutinize seals for signs of tampering and to be wary of unusual appearances.
The NAFDAC Director General underscored the significance of checking the overall condition of the product, including signs of contamination or unusual odors. In light of a 2019 World Health Organization (WHO) study linking alcohol consumption to various cancers, she urged consumers to prioritize their health and well-being.
Highlighting other achievements in 2023, Adeyeye discussed a media engagement with health journalists to address the harmful effects of bleaching cream. Additionally, she noted the deployment of Monkeypox and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, brought into the country through mutual recognition for the treatment of these diseases.
In conclusion, the decisive actions of NAFDAC in Aba underscore the agency’s commitment to safeguarding public health and eradicating the menace of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria. The closure of 240 shops sends a strong message that illegal activities in the pharmaceutical and beverage industries will not be tolerated, and those responsible will be held accountable.