The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on Friday, says the long arm of the law has caught up with a syndicate specializing in the importation of banned Crusader soaps containing mercury into the country.
NAFDAC evacuated three trailer-loads of the imported medicated soap as well as Mekako soap of 12 packs by 12 tablets amounting to 4,000 cartons, valued at N1 billion, from the warehouse owned by the syndicate, at the trade fair market, Lagos.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, who addressed newsmen in Lagos, said a sample of the product was taken to the laboratory for analysis and found to contain heavy metals identified as mercury.
In her words, “the presence of mercury in cosmetics is of global concern due to the health hazards it poses to human health and environment, the syndicate used forged customs documents to import the product into the country “.
“Investigations conducted by the investigation and Enforcement, Directorate of NAFDAC at the Ports show that the banned Crusader soap was imported seven times in 2021 alone and each consignment is not less than 3 containers with four thousand, five hundred cartons of the soap. These products have found their way into various supermarkets and cosmetics shops with unsuspecting members of the public patronizing them “. Adeyeye stated.
Acting on intelligence, the I & E Directorate in August 2023 busted the warehouse, three trailer-loads of imported crusader medicated soap and mekako soap totaling 4,000 cartons by 12 packs by 12 tablet soap were evacuated and some suspects were arrested in connection with the case “. She added
She revealed that the successful busting of the warehouse came after three failed attempts, as the cartel using their own informants were continuously relocating the consignment of soap to different locations in Lagos to prevent the discovery of the products by NAFDAC investigation and enforcement team.
The DG explained that “the Crusader soap is falsely labelled, made in England to deceive Nigerians while the actual source is India, adding that, the act is an outright violation of NAFDAC Acts and a contravention of the Agency’s regulations, including the cosmetic products (prohibition of bleaching agents) regulations 2019 “.
“The arrested suspects would be charged to court while a manhunt is being intensified to arrest other fleeing members of the deadly syndicate “. She promised
Adeyeye, who urged the public not to patronize mercury containing cosmetics, also highlighted features that should be looked out for when purchasing cosmetics.
“Do not assume a product is good if it comes without labels. Watch out for products from spas and beauty outfits which fall in this category. Do not use products without labels, Products may contain mercury, even if it is not listed as an ingredient on the label, especially if it is not registered by NAFDAC.
“Look out for the following on the ingredient list, as it indicates presence of mercury in the products: Hg (the chemical symbol for mercury). Mercuric iodide, mercuric chloride, mercurous chloride, ammoniated mercury, calomel, mercurio, amide chloride of mercury, mercury oxide. Instruction to avoid contact with silver, gold, rubber, aluminum and jewelry.”
She warned that Cosmetics labeled in other languages other than English, without English interpretation, and not registered by NAFDAC should not be patronize, also worthy of note is the fact that all soaps and detergents are under the Federal Government of Nigeria imports Prohibition List and are therefore banned from importation into the country.” She said.