By Chikwe Azoma
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control(NAFDAC) has condemned a publication in a national daily on 28th December 2019 titled “Port congestion worsens as NAFDAC conducts E-certi’cation”
In a press statement, Director of Special Duties at NAFDAC, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, said that the contents of the publication were completely untrue, baseless and a bid to mislead the general public on the clearance of products at the various seaports.
According to him, as part of the ongoing modernization reforms by the Federal Government of Nigeria at the ports, NAFDAC has assiduously worked towards the automation and digitization of NAFDAC processes and licenses respectively.
“This has resulted in the development and deployment of NAFDAC e-licenses for utilization in the clearance of NAFDAC regulated products. Prior to the deployment of the e-license on 9th September 2019, NAFDAC had held sensitization workshops for importers and authorized Dealer Banks (ADBs) in 2018.
“This was to prepare importers of NAFDAC regulated products on the need to digitize any documents that were not in electronic formats while the processes for the issuance of new NAFDAC licenses was automated and processed on the Federal Government Single Window for Trade which is a one-stop portal for various Agencies operating at the Ports.
“In the past, NAFDAC documents were physically scanned and attached to the Central Bank of Nigeria Form M platform. As a result of this, the ADBs and the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) were not able to verify and authenticate submitted NAFDAC documents.
“This gave room for unscrupulous importers to forge and use expired NAFDAC licenses to process their Form Ms. With the commencement of the e-license era, NAFDAC integrated her licenses with the Form M platform such that importers are no longer required to scan and attach NAFDAC licenses but only input their Approval Reference Numbers which would be auto-verified by the Form M platform during processing.
“As a result, many importers who were used to utilizing unapproved licenses could not process their Form Ms. It is also important to note that it is against the Federal Ministry of Finance Import Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation requirements under the Destination Inspection Scheme to ship any consignment without opening Form M.
“Form M cannot be validly opened when you do not have a valid license from the Agency regulating the product. Those in this predicament have been violating this import procedure for years. Any person intending to import physical goods into Nigeria shall in the first instance process e-Form M through any authorized dealer bank irrespective of the value and whether or not payment is involved.”
Jimoh stated that NAFDAC as a responsible regulatory agency has determined to facilitate trade and comply with the Federal Government’s reform agenda for the various ports.
“Our current drive is to encourage compliance, be customer-focused and improve the ease of doing business while ensuring that safe and quality regulated products are available for Public Health use.'”