Nigeria Needs new legal Framework to Combat Counterfeiting
By Miftaudeen Raji, UNILAG
The acting director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs Yetunde Oni, has explained the need for a new legal framework in a bid to tame the tide of substandard drugs and counterfeiting in the country.
According to her, counterfeiting and substandard drugs pose serious threat and severe danger to human security and health of the entire citizenry.
The DG made this known at a lecture titled “National Security and Fight Against Substandard Drugs in Nigeria,” which was delivered at the postgraduate class of department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, UNILAG last Thursday.
The DG, who was represented by the deputy director of the agency, Mr. Sherif Olagunju, noted that the problem has worsened due to inability of government to recognize the problem.
He pointed out that ineffective legal framework and penalties has paved the way for criminals to live at large. “In Nigeria, it’s 15 year jail term while in some other country, what they have is death penalty. We need a new and working legal frame work,” he said.
Olagunju however, called for the review of NAFDAC laws just as he said the agency is pushing forward to the national assembly to change the penalties, make new laws in order to effectively combat counterfeiting.
“The problem of counterfeiting has grown wild. The west are also experiencing the menace. Anything criminality works together. We need everybody to be on board to tackle the crime," he said.
Identifying smuggling as a major problem, he said it has been observed that smuggling is done for economic gains.
Olagunju, urged the confiscation of assets, life jail term, death sentence for criminals and compensation for victims.
He said, "Security of food and drugs by our security agencies and governments at all levels is key in the quest for national security. Health, safety and security of the nation are fundamental to the development of our nation. We need to curb organized gangs, who promote criminality at all costs.”
He commended media for promoting NAFDAC agenda and educating the people on developments, saying “without media, NAFDAC wouldn’t have been where it’s today.” He urged journalists to continue to support the agency by creating more awareness to the publics.
Noting that manufacturing and imports control has to be strengthened, he said the agency is working cementing a collaboration with international organizations and security agencies and capacity building of its officials
He said this was necessary because ineffective collaboration between governments and institutions, police, customs has been a clug in the wheel of the country's health food and drugs security
Olagunju, urged Nigerians to continue accessing the anti-counterfeiting mobile authentication service (MAS) to help them detect fake drugs.
He assured that the agency will continue to improve on its mini labs – small brief case with chemical with chemical - for speedy evaluation of medicines.
Miftaudeen Rji is a Mass communication student at the University of Lagos
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