NAFDAC declares billionaire fake drug suspect wanted, arrests printer, others
Saves two Nigerians abroad from execution
FOR possessing several warehouses where counterfeit medicines are stored and for counterfeiting medicines, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Tuesday declared one Mr. Keneth Okereke wanted.
According to the agency, Okereke has been on the run after he was discovered to possess three major warehouses containing counterfeit drugs valued at about N1billion.
Briefing journalists on the development Tuesday, NAFDAC Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii stated that Okereke nearly overran the police officers that tried to arrest him with his car before fleeing to unknown destination.
The DG, however, stated that a manhunt has been launched for the fleeing suspect, as security operatives within the country and at border posts have put on his trail.
Meanwhile, the agency has again saved two Nigerians from execution in China and Malaysia where drug trafficking attracts capital punishment. At the same time, anti-narcotic officers at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA) Enugu, apprehended four suspected drug traffickers in connection with unlawful importation and exportation of illicit drugs that tested positive for cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis with a total weight of 25.25kg.
Also, the agency also yesterday paraded Mr. Victor Okeke-Chinonyeluma for the forgery of NAFDAC’s, Nigerian Customs Service’s (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service’s (NIS) and various banks’ documents; and the quartet of Mr. Tochukwu Michael-Ozala, Mr. Ifeanyi Okoro, Mr. Peter Nwannwbuife and Mr. Nnaka Christian for counterfeiting Codrux Codeine cough syrup and Coflin cough syrup in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Orhii added that Okereke, who is also known as Agama, resided at House 3, Ameze Street, off Magodo Road, Shangisha, near Magodo, Lagos, before taking to his heels.
The NAFDAC DG stated that the following counterfeit medicines had been discovered in Okereke’s illegal warehouse: “Tarivid 200 milligramme (mg) tablet, Augmentin 625 mg tablet, Proviron tablet, Novasc tablet, Glucophase 500mg tablet, GSK hologram for loparex, Ciprotab (antibiotics), unlabelled injections, Lexotan tablet (for treating anxiety), Septrin packing material, Ampiclox packaging material, and Cytotec-200mcg (misoprostol) tablet,” which is used to start labour, induce abortions, prevent and treat stomach ulcers, among other drugs.
Orhii said because of Okereke’s heinous crime, the Agency had declared him wanted. He implored members of the public with any useful information that may lead to his arrest to get in touch with the nearest NAFDAC formation, the police or the other security outfits. “We assure members of the public of utmost confidentiality in this regard,” he said.
On Okeke-Chinonyeluma, Orhii said that the agency has been on the trail of the suspect since 2013 for “forging stamps for Option Freight International Limited (a clearing company) to facilitate the clearance of 1 by 20 feet and 1 by 40 feet containers of herbal drugs and herbal tea imported by Tianshi Health Products Company Limited,” adding that investigations revealed that Option Freight International Limited sublet the clearing job to Truth Okey Cargo Nigeria.
Orhii explained: “It was in the course of processing the clearance of the consignment that Mr. Victor Okeke-Chinonyeluma was contacted by a staff of Truth Key to forge the stamps.”
When arrested, Okeke-Chinonyeluma, the NAFDAC boss said, was found to illegally possess the following sensitive documents: NAFDAC import permit forms (I unit), 14 packs of Entry for NAFDAC regulated product for different companies, large quantity of Bill of Lading form, international passport belonging to Mr. Awunor Steve Emeka, forged letter from D/C (revenue recovery) NCS, Apapa Command to the Managing Director of APM terminal Apapa for the release of a container, large quantity of Union Bank of Nigeria custom revenue receipt, copies of First Bank Custom revenue receipt, copies of Skye Bank Pay-in form duty collection, among others. Orhii said the suspect shall be charged to court.
But Okeke-Chinonyeluma told the media that he was a clearing and forwarding agent before he was arrested.
Speaking on other four, Orhii stated that, “Okoro, who is a printer prints the fake packaging materials of the counterfeit cough syrup for Michael-Ozala and his associates who manufacture the counterfeit products.” He added that the counterfeit products were often released into circulation by the trio of Michael-Ozala, Nwannwbuife and Christian “who sell these dangerous products in the market.” He said all the suspects shall be charged to court.
Agreeing to the crime, Okoro said he was misled by his business colleagues into believing that they were into genuine business.
He, however, urged the agency to sensitise printers under the Association of Professional Printers of Nigeria so that other printers would not fall victim of the law.
In a release signed by Head, Public Affairs, Ofoyeju Mitchell, two of the drug suspects Okafor Chidimma Deburah, a 30-year-old professional dancer was going to Malaysia with 3.450kg of amphetamine hidden in jeans trouser while Utobo Prince Davies Chidiebere, 33-year-old trader was found with 17.800kg of cannabis hidden inside bitter leaf on his way to China. The remaining two suspects were arrested while returning from Brazil. They are; Nwachukwu Nwadi Victor, 45, found with 2.200kg of cocaine hidden inside a music player and Celestine Okoye Ugochukwu, 40, who hid 800 grammes of cocaine inside the handle of his luggage.
NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Ahmadu Giade called on stakeholders to treat drug control programmes as top priority since it involves life. “Let me make a passionate appeal to stakeholders to give priority attention to drug control because it has to do with life and death. The two suspects going to China and Malaysia would have died prematurely if not for the vigilance of officers. Besides, the lives of addicts who use the drugs are also endangered. We need public enlightenment because while we are intensifying narcotic checks what of those that took drugs from other countries. This is a serious challenge and we must contribute our quota” Giade stated.
NDLEA commander at the Enugu Airport, Nsikak-Abasi Udoh said that all four arrests were made during routine checks. According to Udoh, “those arrested include a dancer, two traders and a factory worker. They were randomly intercepted during screening of Ethiopian Airline flights. The suspects have provided us with useful information for further investigation. The command will charge them to court soon”.
In her statement, Deburah who hails from Imo State said that she was promised the sum of 3,500 dollars. “I am a dancer. I was broke and needed money. I have been approached on many occasions to smuggle drugs but I turned down the proposal. They paid my return ticket and offered me 3,500 dollars. The drug was concealed in jeans trousers. I thought that I could earn some quick money in few days” Deburah stated.
Utobo Prince Davies Chidebere said that he needed money for the shipment of his goods from China to Nigeria. “I am a trader, I bought some goods but I have no money for the shipment. A friend in China told me that if I can smuggle cannabis to China, I can earn good money for the shipment of my goods and extra money for myself. I never knew that they will detect the drug because it was carefully hidden” Utobo who hails from Ebonyi States told investigators.
Nwachukwu Nwadi Victor, a factory worker in Brazil said that he bought drugs for ten thousand dollars in Brazil. “I am a factory worker in Brazil. I had family problem in Nigeria to settle so I decided to buy cocaine with 10,000 dollars. I would have made over 300 percent profits if I had succeeded in bringing the drugs. The drug was packed inside a music player, yet the officers detected it,” Nwachukwu stated. He hails from Anambra State.
Celestine Okoye Ugochukwu had everything carefully planned but not good enough to go undetected. “I smuggled drugs because I needed money. The drug was hidden in the handle of my luggage. I am just unfortunate because I had a good plan. I do not know what went wrong but such is life,” Celestine stated without remorse. He hails from Anambra State.
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