The Standards Organisation of Nigeria has caught a cosmetics and wine importer suspected of changing the expiry dates on products and putting new dates on them to mislead buyers.
The importer, Mr. Joseph Udeh, owner of Jouf Nigeria Limited, Kirikiri Road, Apapa, Lagos, is said to be a major dealer in popular cosmetics and home products.
When Punch visited his residence with the enforcement team from the SON, it was observed that the importer converted two four-storey residential buildings, each containing eight rooms, into storage facilities for products.
Popular cosmetics and home product brands such as Omo, Ariel, Huggies baby diapers, Milton sterilising liquid for babies, Sunlight washing powder, Pampers diapers, various brands of sanitary wares for women, nail polish remover, Rescue Oil, Olay cream, Enliven conditioner, Foramen cream, Pullup potty training pants for children, various popular deodorant sprays including Axe, Cham, Sure, Irish Spring lotion, cosmetic facial wipes for women, as well as assorted wines.
The products were stored in cartons and loose pieces in more than 40 rooms, including the sitting room, kitchens, toilets, bathrooms and under the staircases.
His family, however, occupied the third floor of the second building, while the rest of the floors were also used as storage spaces for products.
A closer look at some of the cosmetics revealed varying expiry dates, some dating as far back as 2004, while some had expired in 2013 and some in 2016.
Udeh, whose shop is located at Balogun Market, Trade Fair Complex, told our correspondent that he was a supplier to some of the major departmental stores in Nigeria.
Justifying the presence of so many expiry goods in his ‘warehouse,’ he said he had made several calls to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, seeking to destroy the goods, but the agency had been slow in responding.
“We invite NAFDAC every year to come and destroy the expired goods, but they do not come as often as we need them to and sometimes when they come, they would insist on destroying only a limited number, two truckloads of goods, maybe,” he said.
But the agency denied knowledge of Udeh and his summons.
Speaking in response to a phone inquiry by our correspondent, the Public Relations Officer of NAFDAC, Mrs. Christy Obiazikwor, said the man was using NAFDAC as an excuse.
“What he is saying is not even logical. If he invited NAFDAC to destroy the products, why is he then changing the labeling on them?” she wondered.
Addressing journalists shortly after the operation, the Head, Inspectorate and Compliance, SON, Mr. Bede Obayi, who represented the Director-General, SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma, said the importer would face the full wrath of the law.
“The volume of the goods that expired is inestimable. They are worth millions of naira.
“We are going to carry out further investigation and process of recall to those people that they have supplied, the status of the products and the expiry dates.
“We have our offices throughout the nation and we are going to escalate the recall process immediately when we get all the details of their transactions.
“Anywhere we find these products in circulation, SON must get there to pick them at the cost of this importer. SON can no longer tolerate this nefarious act and people who are out to kill Nigerians in the name of merchandise.“This is not acceptable to SON and we cannot take this.”
Aboloma lamented the implication of the expired goods for babies and others who may eventually buy and use them.
“Imagine a product that should be used in wrapping up a baby in 2017 has expired in 2015; what will be the effect on the baby? Of course, it would be negative reaction on the baby,” he said.
“We have baby powder that had expired since 2013 and four years after, the products are still going into the market.
“When they sell, they remove the expiry dates and put new dates to deceive the unsuspecting consumers and when you buy these products, you think they are products that can help you, not knowing that they are products that would cause you all sorts of diseases.”
According to the SON official, many innocent people suffer without knowing the root causes of their illnesses, maintaining that importers of these expired products are killing and robbing innocent Nigerians of their hard-earned money.