NAFDAC secures three-year prison conviction against illicit drug merchant

THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has secured judgment of a three-year jail term against a falsified drugs merchant.

 In a statement today by the Agency’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, a Federal High Court in Kano presided over by Justice Ibrahim Mark sentenced 41-year-old Innocent Oparah aka Inno to three years imprisonment with an option of N200,000 fine for endangering lives of innocent consumers through the circulation of fake drugs.

  The convict was charged to court for labelling paracetamol as quinine sulphate and nivaquine (chloroquine) tablets at D222 Sabon Gari Market, Kano.

   Oparah was also prosecuted for illegally labelling Quinine sulphate and Nivaquine chloroquine 100mg in a manner that was false.

   According to the statement, the convict was arrested on October 20, 2018 with some drug products, and paracetamol label that was changed to Quinine and Nivaquine.

   “Upon intelligence information and in collaboration with the members of National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED), officers of NAFDAC swooped on Sabon Gari market in Kano where the convict was picked up.

  “Four boys were met at his shop changing labels of paracetamol with that of Quinine. The boys confessed that it was Oparah (better known as Inno) that owns the products. When they called Oparah on phone, he came and met them at the shop where he accepted ownership of the products.

   “Laboratory test and analysis of the two drugs found them unsatisfactory for human use as the content of the quinine sulphate was lower than expected, and the manufacturers address was not indicated on the product label.

   “The analysis report of nivaquine chloroquine 100mmg tablet was not satisfactory as the friability test was out of specification and tablet breaking. 

   “In addition, the percentage content of Chloroquine was lower than expected and the manufacturers address incomplete. The Quinine and Nivaquine are not registered by NAFDAC,” the statement read. 

   Justice Mark noted that Oparah’s action was inimical to the general wellbeing of the people of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Dr Tanko Sununu had sponsored a bill demanding for more punitive punishments for those involved in illicit and falsified drugs.

NAFDAC Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye appealed to the ninth National Assembly to pass the bill before the end of their tenure since it’s a security related issue.

Commending the judiciary for the judgment meant to serve as deterrent to other criminally minded fake drug peddlers, Adeyeye reiterated her call for a review of the law to discourage Nigerians from going into the illicit business that is capable of compromising the health of the people.

She noted with dismay that the provision of the law for drug offenders in the country prescribed weak penalty underscoring the need for review of the law to prescribe stiffer penalty for drug counterfeiters to serve as deterrent.

“Fake and illicit drugs kill people and the judgment the offenders usually get is so insignificant when compared to the level of the offence committed. Getting judgment of months or two or three-years’ imprisonment is not enough. We must do everything possible to get a law in place that will recommend stiffer penalty for drug counterfeiters,” she rationalised.

The Director General said that food and drugs were too important in human life to compromise standards. She pledged that NAFDAC would continue to ensure that those dealing in fake and illicit drugs would not go unpunished, adding that the agency was more determined and committed than ever by putting necessary measures in place to save lives of the citizens.

She however, commended NAPPMED members for providing the agency with intelligence that culminated in the arrest and prosecution of the convict, as she urged other members of the public to emulate the group by providing NAFDAC with vital information on the “merchants of death”.

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