By NBF News

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has appointed the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) its patron in recognition of his philanthropic gesture of giving 40 medical students scholarship, renovating his alms meter and his contribution in the fight against fake and counterfeit drugs.

The investiture which held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, recently had representatives of Nigerian students from higher institutions across the nation in attendance.

The students noted that when the former Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Dora Akunyili was leaving office, everybody thought that NAFDAC will go under, 'but a quiet hardworking Nigerian in the person of Dr Paul Orhii came and took over the mantle and kept the flag flying.'

According to former NANS President, Mr. Yinka Dada, 'Since Dr Orhii came in as NAFDAC Director-General, new technology is being acquired, more collaborations are being made with organizations and countries to fight fake drugs.

'Nigerians professionals are afraid to come home because they are afraid that their efforts will not be appreciated and there is no enabling environment for them to operate.

'We want to partner NAFDAC as one of the 18 top regulatory agencies in the world.

'Recently, Dr Orhii began a scholarship scheme where over 40 students studying medicine and sciences benefited out of his hard-earned money. He is upgrading and refurbishing his alma maters (primary) and St. Francis College in Benue State.

'These and some other achievements have prompted NANS to appoint Dr Orhii as patron of NANS and want to partner him in the fight against fake drugs,' he said.

Responding, as he receives an award from the students, Dr Orhii said that this honour is not for me, but for NAFDAC and her hardworking staff.

'I was a student leader in Russia, I had my idea about how a government institution should be run, today, I am opportuned to put those ideas into action. The award you have given me is what money cannot buy.

'What I pledged to do when I came into office, is not just to sustain the rhythm of my predecessor, but to take NAFDAC to higher level.

'In West Africa sub-region, the idea of counterfeiting is like a balloon filled with water, we have decided to deploy in our operations mini lab, Truscan etc.

'To also enable Nigerians to know whether a drug is counterfeit or not, we have started a text messaging system that will tell you immediately whether or not a drug is fake or genuine. It is almost in the market on selected products and will continue until it gets to every product.

'We have already met with 774 Local Government Chairmen in the country, to help us fight counterfeit products,' he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Orhii said 'folIowing a tip from a vigilant patriotic and concerned Nigerians NAFDAC has closed down 'God's Will' Maternity Clinic in Keffi, Nassarawa State and arrested three staff of the clinic; Mr. Ambelly Remy, Mr. Ayissi Abena and Mr. Tanga Gabriel for allegedly illegally dispensing unregistered and fake Chinese medicines on their premises .

'All the suspects arrested claimed to be citizens of the Republic of Camerouns. Dr. Orhii said'ollowing the consumer complaint, we drafted officers to carry out a discreet surveillance of the clinic. There after a raid was carried out on the premises. Discovery made from the raid showed that the clinic is being run by one Dr. Arsen, also suspected to be a Camerounian who is on the run.

Four large 'Ghana must go' bags containing assorted unregistered fake medicines, most of which are labeled in Chinese language were discovered. A massage suit and a desktop computer unit purported to be a therapy machine used by the suspects to defraud their patients was retrieved and large quantities of leaflets with fake NAFDAC registration number 454963 advertising cure for various diseases were recovered.

'Mr. Ambelly Remy, one of the three suspects had been previously arrested by NAFDAC for a similar offence in 2009, for which investigation is still ongoing. All three suspects have made statements and investigation is ongoing. 'I wish to use this occasion to alert the general public of such practices and also to advice Nigerians to be watchful of where they go for treatment and the type of medicines they buy. NAFDAC should be contacted if there is any situation where NAFDAC regulated products are illegally manufactured or distributed.

In another development, Dr Orhii said, NAFDAC is hereby declaring Dr. Arsen wanted. Anyone with useful information of his whereabouts should report to the nearest NAFDAC office.

In line with the Agency's resolve to reward useful information received from the public, I hereby call on the author of this complaint to come forward and collect the sum of Fifty thousand naira (N50, 000.00) in appreciation for this very useful information. He should contact me or the Director, Enforcement to claim the reward. This would be done discretely without revealing the identity of the informant.

You are once again being assured of the Agency's resolve to safe guard the health of the citizenry,' he said.