The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has declared war against drug hawking and the dangerous practice of using calcium carbide to ripen fruits.
Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, the Director General of NAFDAC, said this on Tuesday at the official flag-off of the agency’s media sensitisation workshop held in Abuja.
She said the trade seriously threatens the country’s healthcare delivery system and disclosed that NAFDAC’s Enforcement Officers are currently conducting a synchronised nationwide operation to tackle this issue head-on, ensuring that no offender escapes the full force of the law. She also emphasized that any drug hawker apprehended by NAFDAC will face prosecution and imprisonment.
The NAFDAC boss also emphasized that drug hawkers, knowingly or unknowingly, are merchants of death, exposing essential and life-saving medicines to harsh weather conditions that degrade their active ingredients, transforming them into deadly poisons that endanger human lives.
“It is crucial to note that a significant portion of the drugs sold by illiterate and semi-literate drug hawkers are counterfeit, substandard, or expired, failing to meet the quality, safety, and efficacy requirements of regulated medicines,” she explained.
“Drug hawkers are also the major Distributors and Suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as Armed Bandits, Insurgents, Kidnappers, and Armed Robbers. Drug hawkers constitute a serious threat to our national security.
“Drugs are sensitive life-saving commodities which should not be sold on the streets/motor parks or open markets just like any other article of trade. In this regard, we solicit the cooperation and support of all other Law Enforcement Agencies, Nigerian Journalists, and well-meaning Nigerians in riding the country of this harmful and shameful practice.
“Since 2019, we immediately took some decisive steps such as sensitization of the public through different media outlets, enforcement through intelligence, and raids in fruit markets that have resulted in seizures and destruction of violative products.
“The flag–off for this sensitization workshop today is again a fulfillment of my promise to sustain and strengthen NAFDAC’s existing collaboration with the Association of Health Journalists in Nigeria towards mobilizing, educating, sensitizing, and concertizing Nigerian Journalists to play a frontline role in our concerted efforts to eradicate the menace of Drug hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Calcium Carbide in Nigeria”, she stressed.
“The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has noticed the dangerous practice of sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide as well as illegal hawking of drugs in the open market”.
Speaking on the dangers of ripening fruits with calcium carbides, Adeyeye explained: “The ripening of fruits with carbides is another public challenge facing us today and the Agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.
“Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits. Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.
“However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc, or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health.
“Fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin, but the inside remains unripe. You can identify such artificially ripened fruits if you notice that the fruits are all yellow whereas the stem is dark, this is true, especially with bananas and plantains. In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly”.
“It is my candid opinion that a sensitisation workshop of this nature is a training the Trainers’ programme with the great expectation that participants will assume the role of champions in the vanguard of the campaign against drug hawking and the use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits.”