Shuts Panda Supermarket – Abuja
By Victoria Ojeme, Fortune Eromosele & Jennifer Gideon
The Federal government has declared that there is no threat of Coronavirus in Nigeria. The government made the assertion following the closure of popular retail supermarket- Panda in Abuja for selling exclusive China food products to select Chinese customers. Panda was closed down by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, following a tip-off.
The FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday that investigation is ongoing with respect to the closure.
He said there is absolutely no reason to be concerned that the outcome of the investigation will result in the threat of Coronavirus.
His words: “My sense of it is that I don’t believe that there are any threats with respect to the products that have been found in this place. However is the process that we found, the manner we found the products, the lack of clarity about how the products have arrived in this country. Can that present a possibility for future threats? The answer is yes if you do not address it.”
Irukera added the objective is not about a virus threat but about a process to protect consumers in Nigeria.
“The assumption is not that products coming from China to Nigeria are potentially compromised but as I said, we are considering in abundance the caution just to be sure that every measure to protect the community is activated.
“I am more concerned that there’s potential for any of the food items in Nigeria to be carried out at this point, but the reason why I am not concerned is the quality of the vigilance and what we are doing.”
Speaking about other agencies compliance in tackling the prevailing threat, he said “ NAFDAC, FCCPC have activated different protocols, is that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is not a primary agency for managing that kind of thing, but we all work together with the Federal government and with the information that we develop and provide.
“The investigation is continuing, the NAFDAC and FCCPC operatives are inside right now. In addition, a lot of senior operatives of Panda Supermarket are actually in our office right now, answering questions and assisting the investigation.
“One of the key areas of the interrogation in our office right now is the supply chain that panda follow through to get its products and so we will be providing that information obviously to relevant authorities to ensure that they will be acting as swiftly as we have.”
When contacted, Mr wang jingxi of The China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria said: “I have contacted the supermarket owner, who said that they will actively cooperate with the government and are willing to accept the inspection.”
He added that the Supermarket guarantees that all goods in the supermarket are absolutely safe and that consumers should rest assured.
Earlier, it was gathered that the Commission carried out an unscheduled spot check on a concealed food store within Panda Supermarket, Jabi, Abuja.
“Discoveries so far include products with 2089, 2037, 2018, 2019 expiry dates, etc,” Irukera said in a Tweet.
“Selling frozen imported seafood, other animals like frogs and snakes under suspicious conditions with no packaging raises serious concerns, especially when the origin is China because of coronavirus.
“Discriminating against Nigerian nationals in access to displays is also wrong so we acted,” he said.
He said the “FCCPC inspected Panda Supermarket, Jabi on credible reports that it discriminated and had a concealed area for Asian nationals.
“Allegation confirmed, seafood and animals imported illegally from China discovered. Store closed in abundance of caution considering Coronavirus.
“Products with expired and irregular shelf life were also discovered at the supermarket.”