President of Nigeria’s senate, Bukola Saraki has disclosed that a new anti drug counterfeiting law before the Senate will bring tougher sanctions for perpetrators of an act he describes as “despicable and unacceptable.”
The law if passed will among other punitive measures, okay life imprisonment for culprits and a 2 million naira penalty as well as confiscation of all investments and assets gotten from the illegal trade.
Senator Saraki was speaking at the weekend in Abuja at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Health on a new bill, entitled: ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods,” a local media vanguardngr.com reported.
By February 2009, over 90 Nigerian babies had died from consuming the mixture. This is despicable and to say the least unacceptable.
According to the former Kwara state governor, the senate was disturbed by the increasing spate of the production and sale of fake and counterfeit drugs as well as processed foods and the adverse effects on the citizenry.
“In 2008, thousands of Nigerian children started taking a teething medicine that contains toxic chemicals. By February 2009, over 90 Nigerian babies had died from consuming the mixture. This is despicable and to say the least unacceptable,” he bemoaned.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation is long suffering from the issue of drug counterfeiting which has and continues to lead to deaths in the country, especially given its overstretched health care system at the federal and state levels.
The Senate also disclosed that a total of $72 bn was lost to counterfeiting.
For his part, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho, spoke on the adverse effects of fake drugs on the nation’s economy, recalling how the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported the loss of $32 billion to drug counterfeiting business and another $40 billion in 2006.
“There is need to enact new legislations or amend the weak or already existing ones to see that the lives of citizens of this nation are protected,” he said.
Adding that the situation was so bad that “made in Nigeria drugs were officially unaccepted in other West African countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, etc.”