The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has described as false, reports that its e-certification process was causing congestion at various seaports.
In a statement made available to THISDAY recently, the Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Christiana Mojisola Adeyeye said the claims were completely untrue, baseless and a bid to mislead the general public on the clearance of products at the various seaports.
She said: “As part of ongoing modernisation reforms by the federal government at the ports, NAFDAC has assiduously worked towards the automation and digitisation of NAFDAC processes and licenses respectively. This has resulted in the development and deployment of NAFDAC e-licenses for utilisation in the clearance of NAFDAC regulated products.
“Prior to the deployment of the e-license on September 9, 2019, NAFDAC had held sensitisation workshops for importers and Authorised Dealer Banks (ADBs) in 2018.
“This was to prepare importers of NAFDAC regulated products on the need to digitise any documents that were not in electronic formats while the processes for the issuance of new NAFDAC licenses was automated and processed on the Federal Government Single Window for Trade (FGSWT) which is a one-stop portal for various Agencies operating at the Ports.
“In the past, NAFDAC documents were physically scanned and attached to the Central Bank of Nigeria Form M platform. As a result of this, the ADBs and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) were not able to verify and authenticate submitted NAFDAC documents.
“This gave room for unscrupulous importers to forge and use expired NAFDAC licenses to process their Form Ms. With the commencement of the e-license era, NAFDAC integrated her licenses with the Form M platform such that importers are no longer required to scan and attach NAFDAC licenses but only input their Approval Reference Numbers which would be auto-verified by the Form M platform during processing. As a result, many importers who were used to utilising unapproved licenses could not process their Form Ms.”
She said it was against the Federal Ministry of Finance Import Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation requirements under the Destination Inspection Scheme to ship any consignment without opening Form M, adding that Form M cannot be validly opened without having a valid license from the agency regulating the product.
She said: “Those in this predicament have been violating this import procedure for years and they are now caught up because of this integration. It is therefore, misleading, deceptive and baseless for any importer or agent alluding the congestion at the ports to the e-certification processes of NAFDAC.
“Indeed, this is a means of perpetrating evil and attempt to continuing in dirty and unscrupulous procedures in clearance of regulated products. Their attempts can be considered as frustrating trade facilitation.”
She said any compliant importer of NAFDAC regulated products having approved NAFDAC e-licenses and has followed the approved Federal Ministry of Finance Import Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation requirements under the Destination Inspection Scheme will not complain about NAFDAC’s Introduction of e-licenses.
According to her, NAFDAC was a responsible regulatory agency determined to facilitate trade and comply with the federal government’s reform agenda for the various ports.