On Friday, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) made a significant announcement regarding the arrest of a syndicate involved in the illegal importation of banned Crusader Soaps containing mercury into Nigeria.
Mojisola Adeyeye, the director-general of NAFDAC, revealed this information during a press conference held in Lagos. She explained that the syndicate had been using counterfeit customs documents to smuggle the banned product into the country.
According to Ms Adeyeye, the importation of Crusader Soap was banned by the agency several years ago due to its mercury content.
She stated, “Each shipment consisted of no less than three containers, containing 4,500 cartons of the soap.”
Ms Adeyeye went on to explain that in August 2023, NAFDAC’s investigation and enforcement team, acting on intelligence, discovered a warehouse at Trade Fair Market that was stocked with the banned imported soaps. Three trailer-loads of Crusader Medicated Soap and Mekako Soap, totaling 4,000 cartons of soap, were evacuated from the warehouse. Additionally, several suspects were apprehended in connection with the case.
“The estimated street value of the seized products is approximately one billion naira,” Ms Adeyeye revealed.
She further elaborated that the successful raid on the warehouse came after three previous unsuccessful attempts, as the syndicate continuously moved the consignments to different locations in Lagos with the help of their informants, in order to avoid detection.
During the investigation, the prime suspect, Peter Obih, claimed to have purchased the franchise of the product from a company and presented an expired NAFDAC certificate that had been issued for local production of the soap after the ban was implemented in Nigeria.
“The suspect alleges that he has recently entered into a contract manufacturing agreement with a local producer, although production has not yet commenced,” Ms Adeyeye explained.
Samples of the product were sent to the NAFDAC laboratory for analysis, where it was discovered that the Crusader Soap contained high levels of mercury. In an attempt to deceive consumers, the soap was falsely labeled as being made in England, when its actual source was India.
Ms Adeyeye emphasized that mercury in cosmetics is a matter of global concern due to the well-established health risks it poses to both humans and the environment.
The arrested suspects will be charged in court, and efforts are underway to apprehend other members of the syndicate who are currently evading capture.