Officials of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and mobile policemen attached to its Enforcement Directorate have been attacked by traders and touts in Lagos and Ogun states.
Mr Anslem Okonkwor, Public Relations Officer, Enforcement Operations of the agency, in a statement made available to NAN on Sunday in Abuja said the attacked NAFDAC enforcement teams were on a nationwide raid for fake, unregistered, counterfeit and suspected contaminated vegetable oil in major markets and distribution channels in the states.
It added: “When the traders and touts swooped on them, they seized some of the products already evacuated by the teams and beat up one of the agency’s staff, Miss Evelyn Chiemeke.
“The exercise which was almost successful turned rowdy when the members of the union at markets trooped out in their hundreds with the help of hoodlums to prevent the enforcement team from evacuating the offending MOI Vegetable oil” and other products already seized from the markets.
“From Mile 12, to Ikorodu, Sango Otta, Alaba-arago in Ojo, Boundary market in Ajegunle, Suru Alaba and Oke-arin markets, there were attacks despite the presence of armed mobile policemen attached to the teams.
“At the Ikorodu market where four shops were sealed, 438 gallons of fake vegetable oil valued at N6,576,000, and two traders arrested, the officials narrowly escaped mob attack.
“The traders resorted to carrying all forms of weapons at the instigation of a market leader who admitted being the importer of the unregistered vegetable oil from Cotonou into Nigeria,” the statement said.
It added that at Sango market in Ogun, where NAFDAC officials were also assaulted by the market union members, six shops were sealed and one of the employees of the agency was roughly manhandled.
“At Alabarago Market in Ojo LGA, the team forced open a warehouse stocked with fake products after the owners had absconded on the sight of NAFDAC’s officials.
“One of the mobile policemen attached to the team was attacked and almost lost his gun to the mob in the process.
“The agency has regretted that the exercise was marred by pockets of violence.
“The agency stormed the markets following intelligence reports over illegal importation and indiscriminate circulation of unregistered vegetable oil in Nigerian markets,” the statement read in part.
It said the agency was also surprised about the shocking discovery of unhygienic warehouses right inside the markets.
NAFDAC warned that consuming such vegetable oil refilled in such dirty environments would not only expose consumers to infections, but could lead to untimely deaths.