The Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, which is a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organizations, has written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an update on its earlier petition to the anti-graft commission over allegations of
corruption, financial inducements and illegal registration of fake drugs against the immediate past Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii.
According to the updated letter sent to the Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, and signed by CSNAC’s National chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC said the allegations against Orhii and his accomplices are not only crimes of economic sabotage against the country but also destruction of promising young futures of the country.
The updated letter reads: “We had forwarded a complaint to your agency dated 28th March, 2016 detailing several allegations against the immediate past Director–General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii.
“According to agency insider, the former D.G. was accused of recertifying blacklisted Asian Companies, reversing ban of some drugs and allowing dangerous drugs into the country for pecuniary gains and subject to financial inducements during his reign as NAFDAC D. G.
“During the tenure of Late Professor Dora Akunyili as Director General of the Agency, an assessment was conducted on all the pharmaceutical companies importing drugs into the country and based on outcomes of the assessment, some Asian countries were blacklisted for their records and penchant for producing substandard or outright fake drugs/products.
“On assumption of duty as Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii recertified some of them and reallocated previously withdrawn NAFDAC registration numbers.
“The implication of this is that even if a drug/product carries a NAFDAC number, it is not a guarantee that it is genuine. Registration and recertification of drugs are now done indiscriminately.
“Some of the allegedly blacklisted companies that were reported to have been brought back by Dr. Orhii are:
• KAMALA Overseas Bombay 400002
• India MISSION Pharmaceuticals Limited
• India PLIVA
• Pakistan (PVT) Limited
• MILAN Laboratories India
Furthermore, our petition also stated that the former Director General reversed the ban on Monotherapy Artesunate, an anti-malaria treatment which had been banned worldwide by World Health Organization (WHO). Some of the companies he allegedly permitted to bring the drugs to Nigeria are:
CUS Pharmacy which brings CUSNATENEROS Pharmacy – Artesunate and GENEITH Pharmacy EMBASSY Pharma Ltd.
Dr. Orhii was also reported to have allegedly allowed the entry of dangerous drugs like TRAMADOL and CODEINE into the country. Tramadol has been approved to treat pain while codeine was approved to treat pain and cough.
However, there has been a caution to the use of these drugs: which mandates that these drugs should not be used to treat pain or cough in children younger than 12 years. It was also recommended against use by breastfeeding mothers to avoid health problems associated with breathing condition and death in children.
The petition reads further: “In October 2014, two containers measuring approximately 4 x 40ft and 1 x 40ft loaded with unregistered drugs were intercepted at Apapa ports, the contents of these containers include Tramadol 200mg and 150mg (a far higher dosage than the approved 50mg).”
The said containers were seized by NAFDAC officials on January 14, 2015.
Dr. Orhii called a press conference to announce the seizure but on July 20, 2015, he ordered the release of the dangerous drugs into the society, after allegedly receiving some millions of dollars as bribe.
The said containers were released to one Dr. David West.
The statement added: “The consequences of that release and permission of importation of these drugs by Dr. Orhii will be felt in the country in not too distant future. The number of tramadol and codeine addicts all over the country ranging from the young and old, between different social strata can be seen every day.
On the 30th of June 2018, The Vanguard newspaper reported that NAFDAC had confiscated illegally imported products estimated at about N3.5 billion of which tramadol and codeine were in large quantities.
During the destruction exercise led by Ogun State First lady, Dr. Olufunsho Amosun, the Director General of the Agency, Professor Moji Adeyeye was reported to have said that the use of this unwholesome imported tramadol has ruined the lives of many promising youths in the country.
The rate at which these drugs ruin the lives of youths who should have been the future and assets of the nation is rather alarming.
A recent popular and tragic example is that of the popular musician Davido’s two friends who were reported to have died of tramadol and alcohol overdose amidst other circumstances surrounding their deaths.
Despite the fact that the drug is highly regulated and no country in the world allows the use of more than 50mg; it being a narcotic in the class of cocaine. It is on the strength of this latest development that CSNAC is reinstating its commitment to the effective
investigation and prosecution of Dr. Orhii and his accomplices, not only the crime of economic sabotage against the country but also destruction of promising young futures of the country.
“We are by this petition demanding an update of your investigation into these allegations and on the demand for immediate reversal of fraudulent certification by the Agency.”