National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC has sealed Lagos – based confectionaries and multinational food outlet, Chocolate Royale over what it described as “unethical practices” and non-adherent to Good Manufacturing and Hygienic Practices.
Vanguard gathered that the outlet was sealed following a tip-off and intelligence report which indicted the company of illegal importation, storage and use of expired ingredients and food products for preparing of food and confectionaries served to unsuspecting customers.
The company was also accused of operating and maintaining illegal cold-rooms at their Managing Director’s resident where large quantities of various expired and spoilt food ingredients worth millions of naira were uncovered.
The Agency claimed that it’s action became necessary following avalanche of complaints of violation and affront of the company to the regulatory body’s regulations. Announcing the closure of the facilities located at Plot 267A Etim Inyang Crescent and the Managing Director’s residence on No 1, Karimu Kotun Street, all in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Director, Investigation and Enforcement of NAFDAC, Mr. Kingsley Ejiofor disclosed that some top officials of the company were equally arrested for interrogation for willfully obstructing the NAFDAC operatives in the course of their duties during the exercise which lasted over, nine hours.
The expired products worth over N1bn had been evacuated from both premises in six vans, Ejiofor confirmed.
He said six persons were arrested in connection with the incident, explaining that they were held for intentionally obstructing NAFDAC officials while on official duties.His words: “The suspect will be interrogated, while the products will be sampled and taken to the laboratory for analysis, where the labels and contents will be properly analysed. And at the end of the day when the results are out, that will determine the next of action.”
Ejiofor who is also the Chairman of Federal Taskforce on Fake and Counterfeit Drugs, Unwholesome Processed Foods and other regulated products, said that the food and confectionery outlet will remain closed to allow for proper investigation.
“They will be investigated by the Federal Taskforce and NAFDAC. At the end of the investigations, files submitted will be reviewed and after evaluation, we will send them to the legal division which will advice on what next to do and if we have enough facts, then will proceed on prosecution,” he added.
Meanwhile, NAFDAC’s Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii has inspected the seized products evacuated to the Agency’s Enforcement office at Apapa, assuring Nigerians that the case would be thoroughly investigated to ascertain the level of violations to aid prosecution.
Orhii who frowned at the development disclosed that apart from the products being expired, they were not registered by NAFDAC therefore should not have come into the country in the first place.
The Director General directed that in the course of the investigation, those handling the matter should request the company to furnish them with their clearing documents to ascertain if the offending products were legally cleared at the point of entry.
Reiterating that Chocolate Royale will remain sealed and closed to the public until all the issues are fully investigated and resolved, Orhii commended Nigerians for their support for NAFDAC and urged them to help to provide more information that will assist them unravel the activities of those he described as the ‘’merchants of death’’ just as he revealed that there is a reward system in place for those who could furnish the Agency with useful information that will aid it to uncover more hideout of violators.
Chocolate Royale is a subsidiary of AIM Group belonging to a Lebanase business mogul, Mr. Amin Moussalli who is also the owners of broadcast stations; Cool Fm, Nigerian Info Fm, Wazobia Fm, Cool TV, Wee TV and Wazobia TV respectively among other business interests in Nigeria.