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We’re not in a hurry to open Onitsha market, says Akunyili

Posted by By JAZOMA CHIKWE on 2007/03/20 | Views: 415 |

We’re not in a hurry to open Onitsha market, says Akunyili


The Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili says if she has the power she will close the Onitsha open drug market permanently.

The Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili says if she has the power she will close the Onitsha open drug market permanently.

The notorious drug market, which she described as one of NAFDAC’s biggest headache, was shut by the agency with 350 soldiers and over a 100 policemen on ground to enforce the closure after series of efforts by NAFDAC to stem drug counterfeiting in the market failed.

She regretted that NAFDAC had not been able to close the market before now because “there were so many interests.”
Continuing she said, “NAFDAC officers at Onitsha are applying for transfer because of threats to their lives. We are not in a hurry to open that market. They have killed so many people. There is no going back now.”

“If I have the power, Onitsha market will be permanently closed. Nigerians have other places to buy their drugs. But after the screening, if the market is re-opened eventually, it will never be the same again,” she stated.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to The Sun corporate headquarters in Lagos on Monday, the Director General of NAFDAC said that she was not in a hurry to open the market, going by the level of illegal drug business discovered by the agency in the place. In the clean-up, she disclosed, 40 containers of fake drugs were retrieved from the market.

These include drugs bearing fake brand labels, those with only 10-20 per cent active ingredients and many that were outright counterfeit of the original products. She added that an unregistered clinic run by a fake doctor primarily for carrying out abortion was also uncovered in the market and has since been closed.

It was also gathered that the illegal drug market before the closure was run by a powerful cabal of ruthless businessmen and task force. The task force, she said, used to collect N400,000 on a container load of fake drugs and therefore paved way for smooth landing and circulation of the counterfeit drugs.

Akunyili also revealed that the drug market, which is the biggest in Nigeria, is also where more drug counterfeiters are trained in the country. She condemned the complaints of genuine drug dealers in the market over the blanket closure, stating that such move is the only way the market could be sanitised.
She, however, blamed the genuine drug dealers for keeping silent over the nefarious activities of the counterfeiters while it lasted.

The NAFDAC director-general and her team were received by the management of The Sun, led by the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Mr Mike Awoyinfa and the Deputy Managing Director/Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Mr Dimgba Igwe.

Mr Awoyinfa showered encomiums on Mrs Akunyili, describing her as a woman of substance and courage. “A woman who is trying to clear the big augean stable called Nigeria, a woman, who is the new face of Nigerian women. She is a woman we all admire and I am happy she is a fan of The Sun.”
In his remark, Mr Igwe pledged the continued support of The Sun to any good cause like NAFDAC’s, and expressed the management’s delight in hosting Akunyili.

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