An Official of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Micheal Ikoro, has been placed under suspension following his transactions in illegally certifying uncleared honey products for desperate clients/vendors.
This was disclosed by the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Director, NAFDAC, Mrs. Clementina Ayankora, who joined the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on the program- Public Conscience on Radio, in Abuja, this Wednesday.
The syndicated radio program is designed by PRIMORG, a civil society organization to amplify corruption reports done by media houses in Nigeria.
The Director was deployed by NAFDAC to appear on the radio program to respond to a report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, titled “Honey Products with NAFDAC No. Impure, Compromise Health,” which was also PRIMORG’s topic of discuss.
Mrs. Ayankora who reiterated that NAFDAC has zero-tolerance for corruption told PRIMORG that Micheal Ikoro’s suspension was for the agency’s Disciplinary Committee to properly investigate the allegations which has brought NAFDAC regulatory processes under scrutiny by the media.
“We have commenced an investigation and the appropriate action is going to be taken…any staff that is involved will face the consequences.” She said.
Micheal Ikoro is alleged to be helping product owners to walk swiftly through the products certification processes through short cuts for a fee.
He was also alleged to be standing as links man between products owners and other relevant government agencies to get the necessary approvals charging as high as N35,000.
Speaking on the corrupt NAFDAC official, Anyakora admitted that Micheal Ikoro may not have been working alone, noting that the certification process involves inputs from other personnel.
She said NAFDAC in the past, disciplined some other corrupt officials who were dismissed for various illicit conducts.
She said, “One of the cases was somebody that was extorting money from people in the name of giving them jobs in NAFDAC, and when it was discovered, after the investigation, the staff was dismissed.”
The Director, however, warned prospective clients not to engage the services of any third-party consultants in seeking for certification, stressing that NAFDAC has discontinued its involvement of agents in product registration.
Mrs. Ayankora stated that NAFDAC’s team has visited the flagged stores selling the honey but only found one brand which has been sent to the laboratory for analysis. She said no result is out yet.
Internally, she also revealed that the agency has not carried out any form of prosecution on defaulting staff, adding that if the case is criminal, the agency transfers it to the police.
She said the routine checks of products is carried out by the Post Marketing Surveillance Directorate of NAFDAC which go regularly to pick samples from shops, markets and distribution outlets to the labs for examination.
On his part, the Editor, ICIR, Amzat Ajibola, who was also, a guest on the program, noted that ICIR had to examine the substandard honey due to the level of impurity discovered in the various brands.
The examination process, he said, was carried out in the laboratory of the Environmental Protection Board in Kaduna, a lab different from that of NAFDAC’s, due to the delay encountered in a previous case where the agency was not forthcoming with results.
Speaking on the corrupt NAFDAC official, Ajibola declared that there was no way Micheal Ikoro would have been working alone, noting that other officials must have been involved and requested NAFDAC to be thorough in the investigations.