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NAFDAC stands firm on ban of alcoholic beverages in small packs despite protests

Director-General asserts ban is crucial for public safety as clashes erupt during drug enforcement raids

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) reaffirmed its stance on prohibiting the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200 ml and below, despite mounting protests from various sectors.

NAFDAC’s Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, emphasized the ban’s necessity for the well-being of Nigerians, stressing its role in safeguarding lives. The announcement, made on January 31, sparked considerable dissent from distillers and labor unions, who voiced concerns about potential job losses affecting around 500,000 workers.

Responding to inquiries about a possible review of the ban amid the protests, NAFDAC’s Head of Public Relations Office, Christiana Obiazikwor, asserted that the ban would persist. She clarified that the ban targeted alcohol packaged in containers easily concealed by children, citing concerns over public health and safety.

Obiazikwor highlighted the alarming alcoholic content in sachets and PET bottles less than 200 ml, emphasizing the need for responsible regulation. Despite industry claims regarding job losses, NAFDAC remains resolute in prioritizing public welfare over economic considerations, particularly regarding vulnerable segments like schoolchildren.

However, John Ichue, Executive Secretary of the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria, countered NAFDAC’s position, arguing that the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) lacked the status of a policy document. He advocated for a national alcohol policy instead, citing international precedents where bans on sachet alcohol had yielded illicit alternatives.

Meanwhile, tensions escalated on Monday as drug hawkers and touts clashed with NAFDAC’s Investigation and Enforcement Directorate and law enforcement personnel in Abuja. The altercation occurred during a raid on counterfeit drugs at the Area One Motor Park, where assailants hurled stones and attacked vehicles belonging to NAFDAC.

Umar Suleiman, Assistant Chief Regulatory Officer, highlighted the significance of the raid, which seized controlled drugs worth approximately N5 million. Despite facing resistance, NAFDAC remains committed to combating the illegal drug trade and ensuring public safety amidst escalating confrontations.

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