Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The National agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said it has smashed a criminal ring inside Mile 3 Ultra-Modern Market, Port Harcourt who specialised in illicit production of different brands of fake alcoholic beverages.
A statement issued in Port Harcourt by the Public Relations Officer, NAFDAC, South-South Zone, Cyril Monye, said the drinks, which were being produced in five lock-up shops on the first floor of the market were done in crude and very unhygienic manner.
Gallons of liquid substances suspected to be ethanol and colourants were found all over the stores, he said.
According to him, “The ethanol were being mixed with colourants and used to fill used bottles of different brands of fast-selling foreign and locally made alcoholic beverages such as Chelsea dry gin, Lords dry gin, Seaman’s aromatic schnapps, Gordon’s dry gin, Elliot, Royal Challenge, Royal Circle, McDowell’s, Squadron dark rum, 501, Jonnie Walker, Grand Master’s, Three Barrels, Red Label, Black Label, Hennessy etc and sold to unsuspecting members of the public.”
He said the five stores were evacuated and hundreds of empty bottles of alcoholic drinks, labels, cocks, packaging materials/cartons, more than fifty bottles of finished Chelsea dry gin and few other finished products were taken to NAFDAC office at Federal Secretariat, Port Harcourt.
Other items evacuated to NAFDAC office, according to him, include: 15 gallons; with some containing liquid substances suspected to be ethanol, 10 empty drums, plastic basins, pallets, colourants, glues, a set generator etc.
NAFDAC coordinator in Rivers state, Mrs. Mercy Ndukwe, according to the statement, said “The clandestine activities of the counterfeiters were discovered after a tip-off from a good Nigerian and when NAFDAC got to the market the stores were under lock and keys but were later forced open.
“The stores where these illicit alcoholic drinks were being produced are located in a very filthy and unhygienic environment in an isolated end of the market.”
She however, said that NAFDAC could not apprehend the syndicate behind the criminal act as they failed to show up while the leadership of the market claimed to be unaware of their activities adding that investigations were still on-going with the leadership of the market to track down the fakers.
The chairman of Mile 3 Market Association, Elder Nwachukwu Okanu, condemned “the surreptitious manner the counterfeiters invaded the market with their criminal activities and pledged their corporation with NAFDAC in weeding out bad eggs in their midst”, calling on would-be counterfeiters to embrace lawful means of livelihood as the market authority would not protect any person involved in illegality.