Court Affirms NAFDAC’s Power to Regulate Chemicals


The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, has held that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has the power to regulate all chemicals in Nigeria.

Justice E. A. Obile held that the importation, exportation and use of all chemical are within NAFAC’s regulatory purview, including clinker, which is used in cement production.

He delivered a judgment on a suit filed by the United Cement Company of Nigeria Limited (UNICEM).

The plaintiff contended in a suit filed on September 22, 2011 that NAFDAC lacks the powers to regulate the import or export of Portland cement ‘clinker’ for not qualifying as a chemical as specified in NAFDAC Act.
UNICEM argued that the word “chemical” as stated in Section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act refers only to pharmaceutical chemicals.
It said any attempt by NAFDAC to regulate non-pharmaceutical chemicals would amount to usurping the functions of other regulatory agencies.

But, NAFDAC’s lawyer, Adedapo Tunde-Olowu, argued that its power to regulate and control the business and use of “chemical” was not limited to only pharmaceutical chemicals.

Justice Obile held that based on Section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act, the agency has powers to regulate use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals.

According to him, the section provides that the agency shall “regulate and control the importation, exportation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals.”

The judge held that cement clinker was a chemical, adding that there was no ambiguity in Section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act.

Justice Obile said NAFDAC did not go beyond its powers and that any attempt by the court to state which chemical NAFDAC is to control or regulate would amount to amending the statute, which he said the court lacks the power to do.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.