By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has alerted the general public of the unprofessional behaviour of some unscrupulous agents operating at the ports who indulge in forgery and doctoring of its documents.
The agency also reacted to an allegation by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) that its officials were engaging in indiscriminate collection of product samples at the ports, describing it as false.
In a statement issued by the Director of Ports Inspection, Prof. Samson Adebayo, on behalf of the Director General, the agency said it is important to inform the general public of the “unprofessional behavior of some unscrupulous agents operating at the Ports (Air & Sea) and Land who indulge in forgery and doctoring of documents”.
He explained that all NAFDAC processes are now carried out as online transactions, adding that upon completion, a release notice’ that is verifiable is issued for every transaction.
He said: “All importers are admonished to always initiate the clearance processes by themselves (rather than asking their agents to do that) because even when they have genuine and complete documents, for whatever reasons some clearing agents still submit forged documents.
“It should be noted that offenders would be prosecuted when caught. Clearing agents are therefore warned that where such occurs, the names of such erring clearing agents would be compiled and sent to the office of the Comptroller General, Nigeria.
“We encourage all importers of NAFDAC regulated products to monitor the transactions of their clearing agents in order to avoid any embarrassment that may be caused as a result of unprofessionalism of the agents”.
Adebayo said that NAFDAC as a responsible regulatory agency is determined to facilitate trade and comply with the Federal Government’s reform agenda for the various ports.
According to him, the current NAFDAC’s drive is to
encourage compliance, be customer-focused and improve the ease of doing business.
“This is why the portal for the clearance of NAFDAC regulated products is made very simple
and easy to use. In the coming quarters of the year, the agency will embark on rigorous but
friendly sensitisation of various stakeholders on the automated port clearance of NAFDAC
“It is therefore important that all importers and the general public be better informed than
the one – sided information provided by the Compliance Team Coordinator of NAGAFF.
“NAFDAC as a responsible organisation is willing to collaborate with any stakeholder to facilitate trade within the ambit of law – both at various Ports and in all the formations and departments of the agency,” he said.
The agency said the allegation by the Team Coordinator, NAGAFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko is especially disturbing as the issue of the dynamics of sampling of products for laboratory evaluation has been severally explained to stakeholders.
NAFDAC said that it had over the years in various stakeholders’ meetings, workshops and
seminar re-emphasised the need for importers to request for NAFDAC sample receipt for products sampled and collected by NAFDAC officers.
It said that it is within the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for inspection and sampling to issue NAFDAC sample receipts to clients
after products sampling.
“The challenge we have observed is that clearing agents collect these Sampling Receipts and do not present them to importers because they know that
excess samples have been collected and taken away by these clearing agents.
“NAFDAC samples are collected based on international best practices and standards for
laboratory testing. Samples drawn are collected and tested and samples kept as retention
samples in case of retesting where there is unsatisfactory laboratory results (this means the products failed laboratory testing).
“Where there is a need to return some quantities
(especially bulk sampling), the importer is notified via the sampling receipt to visit the
laboratory for the returned sample.
“This is done especially in cases of bulk raw materials for products packed in bulk bags. It is important to collect a whole bag because of the need to ensure that the samples are drawn in an environment free from contamination at the
laboratory and not at the ports.
“Alhaji Tanko should informed and enlightened that products drawn according to NAFDAC
sampling guide cannot be returned because they are the exact quantity required to conduct laboratory analysis. Where there is an exemption to this, especially with products in bulk bags, importers are always informed via the sampling receipt to request for the excess quantity.”