NAFDAC warns of unscrupulous clearing agents at seaports

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye


The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has advised the public and importers of regulated products to be wary of the unprofessional behaviour of some agents operating at the air and seaports of the country.

While warning that some clearing agents indulge in forgery and doctoring of documents, the agency said its processes are now carried out as online transactions and upon completion, a release notice that is verifiable using QR reader is issued for each transaction.

NAFDAC Director of Ports Inspection, Prof. Samson Adebayo, gave the advice on Monday while responding to allegations of indiscriminate collection of product samples by the Standard Organisations of Nigeria (SON) and NAFDAC at ports by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).

He said such allegations were disturbing and baseless as the issue of the dynamics of sampling of products for laboratory evaluation has been severally explained to stakeholders.

NAFDAC said it is within the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for inspection and sampling to issue NAFDAC sample receipts to clients after product sampling.

“The challenge we have observed is that clearing agents collect these sampling receipts and do not present them to importers because they know that excess samples have been collected and taken away by these clearing agents,” he said.

He said NAFDAC samples are collected based on international best practices and standards for laboratory testing.

“Samples drawn are collected and tested and samples kept as retention samples in case of retesting where there are unsatisfactory laboratory results.

“Where there is a need to return some quantities (especially bulk sampling), the importer is notified via the sampling receipt to visit the laboratory for the returned sample. This is done especially in cases of bulk raw materials for products packed in bulk bags,” Adebayo said.

He advised importers of NAFDAC-regulated products to monitor the transactions of their clearing agents in order to avoid embarrassment that may be caused as a result of the unprofessionalism of the agents.

“All importers are admonished to always initiate the clearance processes by themselves rather than asking their agents to do that because even when they have genuine and complete documents, for whatever reasons some clearing agents still submit forged documents. It should be noted that offenders would be prosecuted when caught.

“Clearing agents are, therefore, warned that where such occurs, the names of such erring clearing agents would be compiled and sent to the office of the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service for sanctions,” he added.