The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), on Friday, revealed it has discovered a warehouse in Lagos stocked with imported banned Crusader soaps.
Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC Director-General (DG), speaking at a media conference in Lagos, said investigation through the ports showed that the banned Crusader soap was imported seven times in 2021 alone with each consignment containing 4,500 cartons of the soap.
The DG noted that the importation of the soap into the country was banned by NAFDAC years ago because it contains mercury which has been identified as a health risk.
“Acting on intelligence, I&E directorate in August 2023 busted a warehouse in trade fair market, which was filled with banned imported soaps.
“Three trailer-loads of imported Crusader medicated soap and Mekako soap totalling 4,000 cartons by 12 packs by 12 tablet soap were evacuated from the warehouse, while some suspects were arrested in connection with the case.
“The street value of the evacuated products is approximately N1 billion.
“Mercury and its compounds in cosmetics are a threat to public health. Mercury is readily absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and exerts a debilitating effect on the vital internal organs of the body.
“The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global agreement, which was adopted in 2013 and entered into force on the 16th of August 2017.
“The Minamata Convention bans the sale of mercury-added cosmetics, including skin-lightening creams. After 2020, parties to the convention, including Nigeria which is a signatory to the convention, are required to have banned the manufacture, import and export of mercury-containing cosmetics products,” she said.
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Adeyeye said during interrogation, one Peter Obih (alias Ogbuagu), the prime suspect, claimed to have bought the product from a company.
According to her, the suspect presented an expired NAFDAC certificate that was issued for local manufacturing of the product after the ban in Nigeria.
“It is to be noted that not one bar of the soap has been manufactured in Nigeria since the purported registration in 2013.
“The suspect claims to have just secured a contract manufacturing agreement with a local manufacturer but they are yet to commence production.
“The sample of the product was taken to our laboratory for analysis and was found to contain heavy metals identified as Mercury.
“The Crusader soap is falsely labelled, made in England to deceive Nigerians while the actual source is India.
“This act is an outright violation of the NAFDAC Acts and a contravention of the agency’s regulations, including the cosmetic products (prohibition of bleaching agents) regulations 2019.
“The arrested suspects will be charged to court while a manhunt is currently being intensified to arrest other fleeing members of this deadly syndicate,” the NAFDAC DG added.