Officers of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have arrested a 32-year-old man identified as Obinna Igbo, for alleged importation and sale of fake Amanta Forte, an unregistered anti-malarial drug.
NAFDAC, in a statement signed by its Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, in Lagos on Monday, revealed that the defendant sold the fake drugs at Shop E200, Freedom Line, Onitsha Head Bridge Market after importing them into the country.
Mr. Igbo has however, been arraigned before a Federal High Court on four counts of unlawful importation, possession, sale, and distribution of fake Amanta Forte soft gel (Artemether 80mg + Lumefantrine 480mg Capsules) drug at Head bridge market Onitsha, Anambra State.
Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye disclosed that officials of the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate of the Agency raided three pharmaceutical outlets at Head bridge market Onitsha; namely Triphon Point Global limited, Emma Medicals Nigeria Limited and Ekeh Mountain Global Ventures Limited.
According to the NAFDAC DG, offending product was found in Triphon Point Global Limited, and the product was subsequently evacuated while the shop was placed on hold.
She explained further that at Emma Medicals and Ekeh Mountain Global Ventures Limited, checks revealed that though the offending product was not found being displayed on their shelves, but their sales books revealed that the product was sold by them.
The NAFDAC boss said that the three shops were placed on hold while the managing directors were invited for further interrogation.
She said the three suspects were interrogated independently and their statements extracted, adding that they claimed that they sourced the product from one Blessed OJ Don Global Link in the market.
According to the NAFDAC DG, the three suspects further stated that if given the opportunity they would assist the Agency in apprehending Mr Obinna Igbo. (MD, Blessed OJ Don Global Link)
Prof Adeyeye explained that all efforts to arrest Mr Igbo proved abortive as he was on the run knowing that he was being trailed by NAFDAC. She further disclosed that a tracking device was engaged to track him down in Onitsha where he was eventually arrested and taken into custody by the Investigation and Enforcement officers of NAFDAC in Asaba before he was transferred to the I&E Lagos office.
Upon interrogation, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said, Igbo acknowledged without duress that he was the importer of Amanta Forte Soft Gel – an illegal antimalarial drug – he smuggled into Nigeria from Ghana. Although the date markings on the products indicated that the product was manufactured in India and marketed by Mitzaagold International FZE Amin Hussain market, AL Trade Zone, Dubai, UAE.
He, however, said he has other pharmaceutical products which he also imported into the country, some of which were anti-hypertensive drugs. In his statement, he acknowledged that he sold the product to the shops visited during the raid by NAFDAC.
Igbo, however, pleaded not guilty before Justice Tijani Ringim.
Although defence counsel, Mr. A.C. Oforjiuba, sought to make an oral bail application for Igbo, prosecuting counsel, Chinyere Okoli, prayed the court to remand him in custody pending trial.
The judge however, ordered that he should be kept in a correctional facility pending a formal bail application.
He adjourned the case until June 6 for trial.