Worried by activities of illegal drug hawkers in Plateau, the National Agency For Foods, Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, at the weekend raided motor parks and other illegal drug selling points in Jos, and arrested 50 hawkers.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria who witnessed the raid, reports that the hawkers and their drugs packaged in long wooden carriers, were ferried into waiting for security vehicles.
NAN also reports that areas raided included Kufang, Miango-Low-Cost Housing Road, Yingi-Rayfield Road and Amusement Park/Solomon Lar Way, all within Jos metropolis.
Josephine Dayilim, NAFDAC Deputy Director in charge of North-Central, who spoke on the exercise, said that the drug control agency was forced to constitute a team of regulatory officers from the Plateau office after it received several complaints from concerned citizens.
“We had a barrage of complaints and quickly embarked on a surveillance; from our checks, we found that the illegal drugs hawkers were mostly youths carrying their wares in wooden carriers. Most of them are from neighbouring states hit by insurgencies.
“The youths move with their wares which they sell to members of the public, mostly on the streets, motor parks, recreation centres and markets, after convincing them of the efficacy of the said drugs.
“The situation is dangerous in all dimensions – first the drugs are illegal, poorly prepared and get even more medically acidic when exposed to the harsh and extreme weather conditions of high temperature and high moisture conditions when it rains,” she said.
Mrs Dayilim said that most of the wares were sex-enhancing drugs with very offensive pictures on the packs.
“The drugs have not been registered by NAFDAC. Aside the sex-enhancing drugs, the hawkers also have some antibiotics, antimalarials, analgesics, condoms and even tramadol, which is a controlled drug.
“Some of the sex-enhancing drugs (sildenafil citrate tablets) seized by NAFDAC had names like Tiveka, My Love, Hyergra, Lady Killer, Night Rider, African Vhiagra, Hyiagra, Hiegra, King of Jelly, Black Force, Black Diamond, among others.
“Some of the drugs are often abused which could lead to convulsion, coma and even death, especially since the hawkers do no know much about directions for use,” she lamented.
Dayilim said that NAFDAC was forced to raid the selling points after it tried without success, through various sensitisation/awareness creation meetings, to convince them to abandon the illegal trade.
“At those meetings, we tried to enlighten them on the dangers of hawking drugs and the attendant side effects of their operations.
“We reminded them that the drugs were losing their potency and becoming poisonous due to direct sunlight and high moisture effects.
“We also told them that most of what they were selling was fake, with a massive rate of treatment failures reported to NAFDAC, by the users.
“We also told them that most of the drugs were unregistered and expired and had always destroyed the body organs of the users, and warned them of the penalty stipulated for such offences in the nation’s statute books.
“After the enlightenment, we advised them to shun drug hawking and enter into other means of livelihood that will not endanger human lives.
“It was after that exercise that we decided to descend on the hawkers so that they will face the full weight of their actions,” she said, adding that none of them would be spared the wrath of the law.
Mrs Dayilim advised members of the public to stop patronising illegal drug hawkers and purchase their drugs only from registered pharmacy outlets and patent medicine stores so as to keep the hawkers out of business.
“Once there are no buyers, there will be sellers; NAFDAC is out to safeguard life,” she declared.
She said that the sensitisations were carried out out in Bukuru, Miango, Marraraba-Jamaa, Katako, Rayfield, adding that the exercise would be sustained until the state was rid of such illegal drugs.
Mrs Dayilim said that NAFDAC had also embarked on massive campaigns to educate members of the public on food safety issues such as misuse of calcium carbide for ripening of banana and other fruits, and the adulteration of palm oil with azodyes to enhance the colour.
Other evil practises, she said, included misuse of pesticides to preserve beans, maize, dried fish and stock fish.
“Such preservation methods can cause serious health consequences such as cancer; we also want to enlighten people on the ban on the use of Potassium Bromate in baking bread since the chemical could cause a breakdown of the vitamins in bread, and lead to kidney failure and cancer.”
She further emphasised the ban on the use of sniper and other brands of diclorvos (DDVP) as a household insecticide, and against its direct application on food and its abuse by youths to commit suicide.
According to her, “NAFDAC is already mopping up 100ml sniper and other brands of diclorvos (DDVP) formulations from the open markets and supermarkets because it is criminal and highly dangerous to health as it causes respiratory disorders and cancer.”
Mrs Dayilim also warned members of the public against the sale or consumption of products not duly registered by NAFDAC and foods not fortified with Vitamin A like flour, sugar and vegetable oil.
“Members of the public should ensure they buy only NAFDAC-approved food, drugs, cosmetics, detergents and packaged drinks. Such products will usually have batch numbers, manufacturing and expiry dates, directions for use and storage conditions,” she said.