A Federal High Court in Kano has sentenced a 41-year-old man, Innocent Oparah, to three years jail term for endangering the lives of innocent consumers by circulating fake drugs.
Oparah who was arrested in 2018 was charged to court in charge FHC/KN /51/2019 for labelling paracetamol as Quinine Sulphate & Nivaquine (Chloroquine) tablets at D222 Sabon Gari Market, Kano, The Punch reported.
The court was presided over by Justice Ibrahim Mark.
In a statement signed by the Resident Media Consultant of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday, Oparah was on Friday sentenced to three years with an option of a N200,000 fine.
Count one stated, “that you, Innocent Okparah on or about October 20, 2018, at the above address within the jurisdiction of this honorable court was found in possession of fake drugs, thereby, committed an offence contrary to section 1(a) of the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (miscellaneous provisions) Act, Cap C34, LEN 2004 and punishable under section 3 (1) (a) of the same Act.’’
The statement made available to The PUNCH read in part, “Innocent Oparah was also prosecuted for illegally labelling Quinine Sulphate and Nivaquine Chloroquine 100mg in a manner that was false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 5 (a) of the Food and Drugs Act, Cap F32, LFN 2004 and punishable under section 17 of the same Act.
“The convict was arrested on October 20, 2018 with some drug products and Paracetamol label that was changed to Quinine and Nivaquine.
“In collaboration with the members of National Association of Patent & Proprietary Medicine Dealers, officers of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control had, upon intelligence information, swooped on the Sabon Gari market in Kano where the convict was picked up.
“Four boys were met at his shop changing labels of paracetamol with that of quinine and the boys confessed that it was Innocent a.k.a. INNO that owned the products.
“The boys called Innocent Oparah on phone, and he later came and met them at the shop where he accepted ownership of the products.
“The analyst found the two drugs unsatisfactory for human use as the content of the Quinine Sulphate was lower than expected and the manufacturer’s address was not indicated on the product label. The analysis report of Nivaquine Chloroquine 100Mmg tablet was not satisfactory as the friability test was out of specification and tablet breaking, also percentage content of chloroquine was lower than expected and the manufacturer’s address was incomplete. The Quinine and Nivaquine are not registered by NAFDAC.
“The presiding judge noted that innocent’s action was inimical to the general wellbeing of the people of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health, Dr. Tanko Sununu sponsored a bill at the National Assembly demanding more punitive punishments for those involved in illicit and falsified drugs.
Commending the judiciary for the judgment meant to serve as a deterrent to other criminally minded fake drug peddlers, Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, reiterated her call for a review of the law to discourage Nigerians from going into the illicit business that is capable of compromising the health of the people.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.