The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) at the weekend cautioned all clearing agents and importers circumventing guidelines on the importation of food and drugs through the nation’s ports to immediately desist or face the full weight of the law for such despicable economic sabotage acts.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye gave the warning in Abuja at a virtual sensitization workshop organized by the agency for stakeholders in the nation’s Export and Import Trade activities.
According to her, the agency will not tolerate any unprofessional act from any stakeholder in the export-import space and expressed concern over unwholesome acts where agents and possibly with the connivance of importers engage in falsification of NAFDAC documents to import food and drugs.
A statement issued by the agency’s Resident Media Consultant, Mr. Sayo Akintola , quoted the NAFDAC boss as saying that the regulatory body ‘’shall take all legal means as an Agency set up by the Law of Nigeria to prosecute any erring stakeholder’’.
Adeyeye urged importers to always ensure that they make it their responsibility to initiate clearance of their goods and desist from entrusting the entire process of clearance of their consignments to the clearing agents.
She maintained that whenever the agents run into trouble with the regulatory authorities, they would always want to cut corners, leaving the importer in the lurch at the end of a botched transaction as a result of failure to meet the requirements.
According to her, NAFDAC has deployed various improvements in its processes that will ensure auto verification of documents during clearing, place in the hand of stakeholders the ability to verify the true status of clearance of regulated products and ensure that the agency rewards clients with low risk profile.
She said: ‘’I wish to appeal that you comply with the fast-changing updates currently ongoing in NAFDAC. These include the current issuance of electronic NAFDAC Invoices, NAFDAC Receipts, First Endorsement Notices and Release Notices.’’
“We are conscientiously working towards assisting stakeholders to achieve regulatory compliance by ensuring that these requirements are made transparent and accessible to stakeholders through the availability of Regulations, Guidelines, Tariff, and process requirements on the NAFDAC website.
‘’I have also ensured that we maintain transparency and continue the implementation of the Quality Management Systems in our Ports processes. This has led to a review and update of existing Standards Operating Procedures (SOP) and implementation of strategic QMS activities for ISO 9001-2015 certification and entrenchment of WHO Global benchmarking (ISO 9004) across all the Airports, Seaports, and land borders”, Adeyeye added.
While disclosing that the NAFDAC has moved to ensure that the Clean Report of Inspection and Analysis (CRIA) scheme is strengthened for the purpose of establishing the quality and safety of regulated products before they are shipped into the country, she promised to continue to strengthen the scheme to better improve services to Nigeria Importers and ensure that only safe and quality regulated products are available for distribution.
She blamed the uncontrolled influx of fake, substandard, and unregistered products which negatively impact on the society in terms of public health and safety, security, and terrorism on the absence of NAFDAC at the nation’s ports from 2011 to 2018
Adeyeye lamented that NAFDAC’s absence at the ports was one of the factors responsible for the unbridled importation of fake food and drugs into the county, noting, however, that with the return of the agency since 2018 to the ports, she directed that all NAFDAC processes that affect trade to be automated and made available to stakeholders.
‘’This is evident in the online processing of approvals, certificates, permits, and authorizations issued by NAFDAC. We therefore fast tracked our activities on the National Single Window for Trade which made NAFDAC electronic licenses to be processed on the Portal’’, she said.
She explained that the agency also ensured that its electronic licences were integrated with the Central Bank of Nigeria Form M portal so that with just an Approval Reference number an importer is able to activate his NAFDAC e-licence for Form M processing.
According to her, the Agency has gone a step further to ensure the availability of the Ports Inspection Data Capture and Risk Management System (PIDCARMS) as a full online processing portal for the clearance of goods at the ports.
She expatiated: ‘’I am happy to state that from wherever in the world, you can process the clearance of your products with NAFDAC without visiting any formation of NAFDAC or Port offices.’’, she said, adding that there have been testimonies of persons in the United States, United Kingdom, India, South Africa who have processed their port clearance documentation with NAFDAC and released their goods without physically appearing at any NAFDAC office except where their clearing agent conducts physical inspection of the products at the ports – ‘’which is the only time you meet any officer of NAFDAC’’.
‘’Many in the past thought that this was not possible but today, we have done over 30,000 transactions released end – to – end automatedly on the PIDCARMS portal since 1st May 2020 till date. All these achievements could not have been achieved without the leadership of the directorate by Professor Adebayo who does not settle for mediocrity but driven for excellence”, the NAFDAC boss added
In his goodwill message during the virtual meeting, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) commended the NAFDAC’s DG for the initiative and synergy amongst government agencies saddled with the responsibility of facilitating import and export trade activities at the nation’s ports.
Ali, who was represented by Deputy Controller General, Saidu Abubakar, noted that ‘’this kind of synergy will go a long way in facilitating trade and also create an avenue for reducing major issues that affect our stakeholders’’.
Similarly, the Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi, also lauded the agency for its sustained efforts to control the importation of sub-standard food and drugs into the country
Represented by Mr Adeyemi Folorunso, the MAN Director General, said that the sensitization webinar would go a long way in curbing importation of fake and counterfeit products into the country.