The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control says it has arrested some members of a syndicate who specialise in the forgery of NAFDAC numbers, certificates and documents of other government agencies.
Disclosing this to the media in Lagos on Tuesday, the Acting Director-General, NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, who was represented by the Director of Enforcement, Mr. Kingsley Ejiofor, said among the documents recovered from the suspects were certificate of registration bearing forged signature of the acting DG of NAFDAC; documents from government agencies, including the Corporate Affairs Commission, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Federal Ministry of Justice and Federal High Court; as well as a payment verification form from a non-existent Barclays Bank.
Oni said the discovery was made after the agency investigated complaints from three countries about some Nigerians who posed as NAFDAC employees to process registration documents for intending importers of regulated products.
Complaints were received from the High Commission of Nigeria in New Delhi, India on behalf of a firm called Bharti Phosphates, a German manufacturer of pet food supplement and one Mr. Akeem from Tunisia, who wanted to confirm whether he should pay money to a company in Nigeria called Samjoe Ventures for the registration and shipment of 5,000 metric tonnes of calcium carbonate.
She said after investigation, it was discovered that the three cases were hatched and executed by an alleged international criminal group headed by Mr. Eze Okoronkwo, a resident of Aba, Abia State.
Oni said, “Okoronkwo had other Nigerian collaborators, Indian collaborators as well as nationals of Philippines, Tunisia, El-Salvador, the United States, Canada, Mauritania, Denmark, Mexico, Greece, Switzerland, Indonesia and Republic of South Korea, who all acted as brokers to the syndicate.
“The syndicate had collected the sum of $13,640, while there were plans to collect a further sum of $57,720.”
The NAFDAC DG added that the group sourced for brokers with dollar or euro account with a promise that the broker would be entitled to 30 per cent or 40 per cent of the proceeds of the venture.
“They contact the companies thereafter through their known websites. (E.g. European Union Distributors website). The victim is then gradually fleeced, while being presented with fake documents,” she added.
In a related development, the agency paraded a distributor of fake Peak Milk and a manufacturer of fake water used in mixing injections, while disclosing that it had raided the premises of one Mrs. Nkiru Okoro of Ezedams Nigeria Limited located along Kilometre 16, Badagry Expressway, Ojo, allegedly being used as a base for the production, distribution and sales of suspected counterfeit alcoholic beverages.
Oni added that on February 24, the Federal Task Force on Fake and Counterfeit Water Production arrested one Mr. Daniel Ezekwelu for allegedly producing fake water for injection in two compounds at Ojoto, a village near Nnewi in Anambra State.
She said, “During the raid, two under-aged girls were found filling and sealing the fake water for injection under Ezekwelu’s cover.
“Items recovered include plastic containers, gas cylinders and packs of the fake water for injection packed as 100 to 10m vials and labelled ‘sterilised water for injection BP’, with manufacturing date of 2015 and expiry date put at 2020, and said to be produced by Hossanna Laboratories Limited, Surrey.”
A transport vehicle containing several cartons of suspected counterfeit Peak Milk from the East was intercepted by the agency as it arrived Lagos by 4am on February 17, according to Oni, adding that the alleged owner, Onyekachi Ikegwonu, had been arrested.
All the cases, according to NAFDAC, will be transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.