By Sola Ogundipe
IF there is one belief the AttorneyÂ General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa shares with the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC), it is thatÂ maximum punitive measures be alloted manufacturers, importers and distributors of fake, substandard, adulterated and counterfeit drugs in Nigeria.
This fact was established last week in Abuja during the sensitisation workshop on combating drug hawking, counterfeit drugs and other unwholesome regulated products organised by NAFDAC.
The AGF who spoke during the activity held forÂ the Chairmen of the 774 Local Government Councils in the country as well as the Wives of the 36 State governors, was unequivocal as to why manufacturers, importers and distributors of fake, substandard, adulterated and counterfeit drugs in Nigeria should face stiffer punishment.
Describing drug offenders as â€œoperators of this evil and wicked act against the nationâ€, he declared that they must be stopped, and the only way to stop them is through an effective enabling law.
â€œThis is the time to amend our laws and we shall amend the laws as necessary. No member of the legislature will delay the passage of the NAFDAC law. It will be up to their conscience to delay the law considering the havoc caused by fake drugs. We are assuring Nigerians that the NAFDAC amendment law will be fast-tracked. I can give assurance to the effect.â€
A visibly-angry Aondoakaa also observed that â€œbut for the constitution which prevents me from making retrospective legislations, I would have amended the law to ensure that those people involved in theâ€™My Pikinâ€™ saga get stiffer punishment. â€œBut I can assure you that thereafter, nobody will be spared from justice.â€
Reacting to the trend whereby faceless and anonymous petitions were sent to his office, the AGF declared that those fond of writing such petitions against NAFDAC, NDLEA, NCC, etc., wereÂ those guilty of perpetrating the henious crimes. He warned that government is not ready to entertain such petitions.
Earlier, the NAFDAC Director General had regretted the long delay of the proposed law review seeking to impose either the death penalty or life imprisonment for drug fakers and counterfeiters.
â€It is embarrassing that while the Chinese government arrested six of their citizens implicated in the manufacture of counterfeit antimalarials imported into Nigeria a few months ago are facing the prospect of death penalty, their Nigerian collaborators, if successfully prosecuted, will get a maximum of fine of N500,000 or 15 years imprisonement.â€
To date, the Agency has secured 45 convictions in respect of counterfeit drug-related cases while 62 are pending in court.Â OrhiiÂ enjoinedÂ LGA chairmen, in view of the detrimental effects of counterfeiting and hawking of pharmaceutical products, to collaborate with NAFDAC in stemming the trend.