The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has apprehended a 32-year-old businessman, Obinna Igbo, for alleged importation and the sale of fake Amanta Forte, an unregistered anti-malarial drug.
The suspect has 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.
In a statement on Monday by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Mr Sayo Akintola, the defendant was alleged to have sold the fake drugs at Shop E200, Freedom Line, Onitsha Head Bridge Market after importing the same into the country.
According to the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, officials of the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate of the Agency, upon intelligence, raided three pharmaceutical outlets at the market; namely Triphon Point Global Limited, Emma Medicals Nigeria Limited and Ekeh Mountain Global Ventures Limited.
Offending product was found in Triphon Point Global Limited, the NAFDAC DG said, and it was subsequently evacuated, while the shop was placed on hold.
She explained further that at Emma Medicals and Ekeh Mountain Global Ventures Limited, the shops were visited, and thorough screening was conducted, but offending product was not found being displayed on the shelves, but the company’s sales books revealed that the product was sold by them.
The NAFDAC boss said that the three shops were placed on hold while their Managing dDrectors were invited for further interrogation.
Prof. Adeyeye 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 Obinna Igbo. (MD, Blessed OJ Don Global Link).
The DG explained that all efforts to arrest 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 Investigation and Enforcement Directorate at the Agency’s Lagos office.
Upon interrogation, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said that Igbo acknowledged without duress that he was the importer of Amanta Forte Soft Gel, an illegal antimalarial drug he smuggled into the country 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.
Igbo however said he has other pharmaceutical products which he also imported into the country, some of which are anti-hypertensive ddrugs. He was to have made a statement aacknowledging that he sold the product to the shops visited during the raid by NAFDAC.
Igbo 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 ordered that Igbo should be kept in a correctional facility pending a formal bail application.
The offences contravened the provisions of Section 1(a) of the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 2004 They also contravened the provisions of Sections 1(1) of the Food, Drugs and Related Products Registration Act of 2004.