By Olawale Gabriel
LAGOS—With clothes on lines in the balconies of some flats in the four-storey building located in the densely-populated area of Kirikiri Town, Lagos, no one would have suspected that the eight flats are not occupied by human beings, but are warehouses for expired products, which are repackaged as new.
The discovery by officials of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, weekend, after a tip-off by members of the public, was shocking as all sorts of cosmetics and household consumables were found in the flats, which had expired many years ago.
Conducting journalists round the building yesterday, SON Director of Monitoring & Compliance, Engr. Bede Obayi, said: “We acted on the intelligence we received from well-meaning Nigerians. You can see the volume of expired products here and imagine the implication for our society in terms of health issues.
“When somebody buys expired cream, what does it show? You are applying cream that the active ingredient has gone and that may cause reactions on the skin.
“More importantly, you are dealing with products that children use. Look at baby diapers that expired in 2015. Imagine what a product that expired in 2015 will do to a baby if used in 2017.”
Obayi confirmed that most of the products are popular brands imported into the country, adding “perhaps they went overseas to buy these products that are close to their expiry dates and shipped them down here, because they have ready markets where people can buy.
“This four-storey building of eight flats with the toilets, bathrooms and all available spaces filled with expired products. That tells you the enormity of the crime this person is committing.
“Look at this wrapper for disinfectant. What they do is to pick the expired ones and use this wrapper with new expiry dates to wrap it. When you have the old products inside this wrap that carries 2018 as expiry date, you will not know you are buying cloned products. The products have lost their active ingredients and efficacy.”
On the claim by the importer that he was waiting to destroy the products, Obayi said he should have removed the expired ones and contacted the relevant agencies of government to destroy the products in line with international best practices.
According to him, “but what we have seen here is a dubious warehouse or hideout where people are churning out expired products for the markets.”
Obayi said most of the products would have entered the markets as the importer supplies major supermarkets in the state. He added that SON is going to seal up the whole building to carry out further investigations and use the process to recall those already sold out.
He said: “We have our offices throughout the nation and are going to escalate the recall process immediately, where we will get all the details of their transaction, so that anywhere these products are, we will pick them with the cost to the importer.
“SON cannot accept this and those who are out to kill Nigerians. We will not allow them to be selling things like this, killing people in the name of merchandising.
“We don’t want to continue to see people with illnesses caused by people who are out to kill by changing expiry dates.”
He promised that at the end of investigation the importer will be persecuted by SON.