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‘NAFDAC has power to regulate, control sale of chemicals’

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The Federal High Court, Calabar, has affirmed the powers of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to regulate and control the exportation, importation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of chemicals in Nigeria.

The court made the pronouncement in case number FHC/CA/CS/104/2011, United Cement Company of Nigeria Limited (UNICEM) v National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The Plaintiff, UNICEM, a cement manufacturing company brought an action against NAFDAC on 22nd of September, 2011 claiming amongst other reliefs that NAFDAC lacks the powers under the NAFDAC Act to regulate the importation or exportation of Portland cement ‘clinker’ as same is not a chemical for the purpose and intendment of the NAFDAC Act.

The Plaintiff further argued that the word ‘chemical’ as stated in Section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act must by necessary implication refer only to pharmaceutical chemicals.
According to the Plaintiff, any attempt by NAFDAC to regulate non-pharmaceutical chemicals will clearly usurp the functions of other well-known regulatory agencies of the Federal government.

However, counsel for NAFDAC, Mr. Adedapo Tunde-Olowu, maintained that powers of NAFDAC to regulate and control the exportation, importation, distribution, sale and use of ‘chemical’ extends to all forms of chemical and is not limited to only pharmaceutical chemicals.

He stated that section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act is plain, clear, positive, direct and unambiguous and should therefore be given its ordinary meaning.

In his judgment, Justice E. A. Obile held that cement clinker is a chemical. He agreed with NAFDAC that there is no ambiguity in Section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act.

The Court resolved that going by Section 5(a) of the NAFDAC Act, it is clear and indisputable that NAFDAC has not exceeded her designated powers as it is empowered to regulate and control the importation, exportation, distribution, manufacture, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water including chemicals.

Justice Obile dismissed the claims of the Plaintiff for being unmeritorious and lacking substance.


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