The Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), Nasarawa State chapter, in collaboration with Department of State Security (DSS) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) apprehended a codeine baron in Lafia.
Mr Okpalaeke Nwora, the Officer in charge of PCN in the state, disclosed this at a news conference in Lafia on Thursday.
According to Nwora, the synergy with security agencies led to the arrest of the baron, Amaechi Okoronkwo and his assistant, Frederick Uchenna.
He said the two were apprehended at a shop along UAC road in Lafia on Dec. 18, 2017.
Nwora said that the baron, who eluded arrest since 2015, was carefully monitored, trailed and arrested with 11 cartons of codeine syrup containing 660 bottles, amounting to about N700,000.
He explained that “this arrest took place on Dec. 18, 2017 at Amaechi Okoronkwo’s unnamed patent medicine shop in Lafia and if you must know, patent medicine shops or dealers are not allowed to stock or sell codeine containing cough syrups.
“He has been apprehended and further investigations have commenced. The PCN, under the leadership of Mr Elijah Mohammed, will continue to make efforts to ensure that our society is rid of such elements.”
Nwora further revealed that “in the course of our investigation, we discovered that this product (codeine) of various brands is being supplied to Lafia from Onitsha.
“You are aware that PCN and Federal Ministry of Health have been pushing for the dismantling of all open drug markets across the country.
“If these open drug markets are allowed to stay, we will continue to have chaotic distribution of drugs in Nigeria, meaning that the wrong persons will have the opportunity to handle all sorts of drugs and pharmaceutical products dangerous for the society.”
The officer noted that after investigations and all due process have been followed, the culprit would be charged to court in accordance with the laws of the land to serve as deterrent to others.
He, however, admitted that in spite of efforts by PCN, the National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other bodies, the country, especially the northern part was facing huge challenge toward curtailing the abuse of codeine and other substances by youths.
He added that “there was a huge challenge with codeine cough syrup in Nigeria, especially in the north and Nasarawa State in particular.
“This ugly challenge is trying to destroy youths in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the PCN is working on modalities to combat the menace.”