The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Saturday raided the Ogbaru Relief Market, near Onitsha and arrested eight persons including a nursing mother who were involved in the production and sale of adulterated alcoholic beverages.
The agency shut three shops in the market and seized counterfeit drinks and production materials worth millions of naira.
The adulterated drinks had labels of popular brands such as J&W, Baron Romero, Lord’s Dry Gin, Seaman Schnapps, Carlo Rossi, Red Label, Hennessy, McDowell’s, Remy Martins, among others.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos after the operation, Mr. Waheed Agboola, Assistant Director, Enforcement and Investigation Directorate, NAFDAC, voiced his concern over the unhygienic production sites.
“Factories are not supposed to be cited in markets; the factories are in an unhygienic environment and we even saw maggots and cockroaches.
“These fake products are sold within the market and it is difficult to differentiate between the original and fake products,” Agboola said.
Adulterated products are largely responsible for the increase in people with liver and kidney disease, he added.
“The unwholesome practice must have taking place for years because we saw receipts, dated as far back as 2006, and nobody reported until recently,” he said.
He added that the suspects would be investigated to determine their level of involvement.
Agboola said that some of the suspects might be brought to Lagos for further questioning, while others would be prosecuted in Onitsha.
Also speaking on the arrests, Mr. Hassan Tanko, Chief Regulatory Officer, Enforcement and Investigation Directorate, NAFDAC, called for partnership between the agency and the market to prevent future counterfeiting.
He said the agency would sustain its sensitization campaign against unwholesome practices and will prosecute those involved in counterfeiting to deter others.
“Nigerians are not fair to themselves from what we saw at the market.
“We will invite the management of the market to explain why counterfeiting is taking place in the market,” he said.