The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has taken action against a syndicate engaged in the illegal importation of banned Crusader Soaps containing mercury into Nigeria.
The announcement was made on Friday by Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director-General of NAFDAC, during a press briefing in Lagos. According to Ms. Adeyeye, the syndicate employed counterfeit customs documents to smuggle these prohibited products into the country. It’s important to note that the importation of Crusader Soap had been banned by the agency several years ago due to its mercury content, which poses health risks to consumers.
Ms. Adeyeye revealed the scale of the operation, stating, “Each consignment comprised not less than three containers, each containing 4,500 cartons of the soap.” Acting on intelligence, NAFDAC’s investigation and enforcement team successfully uncovered a warehouse in the Trade Fair Market in August 2023, which was brimming with these illicitly imported soaps.
During the operation, three trailer-loads of Crusader Medicated Soap and Mekako Soap, totaling 4,000 cartons (12 packs per carton, 12 tablets per pack), were seized from the warehouse. Additionally, multiple suspects were apprehended in connection with the case. The street value of the confiscated products is estimated to be approximately one billion naira.
Ms. Adeyeye explained that the successful operation to bust the warehouse came after three previous unsuccessful attempts, as the syndicate continuously utilized informants to relocate the consignments to different locations in Lagos to avoid detection.
The prime suspect, Peter Obih, claimed during interrogation to have acquired the franchise for the product from a company and presented an expired NAFDAC certificate issued for local production of the soap after the ban in Nigeria. However, laboratory analysis confirmed that the soap contained heavy metals, including mercury. Furthermore, it was discovered that the Crusader Soap, falsely labeled as “Made in England,” actually originated from India.
Ms. Adeyeye emphasized the global concern over mercury in cosmetics due to the established health hazards it poses to both humans and the environment. She stated that the arrested suspects would be brought to court, and efforts are underway to apprehend other members of the syndicate who are currently at large.
This operation by NAFDAC serves as a crucial step in protecting the health and safety of Nigerians, underscoring the agency’s commitment to eradicating dangerous and illegal products from the market.