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Coca-Cola: Cover your face in shame, HURIWA tells Health Minister

By News Express on 20/03/2017

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•Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole.
•Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has been lambasted by a prominent civil rights body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) for siding with Nigerian Bottling Company PLC against the interest of the consumers by rushing to certify Sprite and Fanta fit for consumption against global best practices. 

HURIWA stated that both NAFDAC and the health ministry are guilty of criminal negligence by only embarking on spirited defence of the defaulting Nigerian bottling company only when a competent Court had returned an extensively damaging claims backed by unassailable empirical evidence generated from a reputable laboratory in the United Kingdom. 

"When has the Health Ministry become an Appellate Court to analyse and issue counter decisions different from the considered pronouncements of a competent court of law?" HURIWA asked.

HURIWA has also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to remove the Health Minister and reorganise the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control  (NAFDAC).

HURIWA said President Muhammadu Buhari needs to urgently bring in a proactively proficient team in the Public Health Sector that will fundamentally overhaul the style of supervision and investigation of the standards of manufacturing and supply of beverages and drugs to Nigerian consumers which for now has collapsed going by recent findings.

HURIWA cited a recent case of importation of garri with NAFDAC registration numbers, into Nigeria from India as showing how NAFDAC has colluded and compromised with evil suppliers of fake and substandard food beverages to flood the Nigerian markets.

“This Lagos High Court’s verdict which disclosed that an international laboratory in the UK certified our Fanta and Sprite as unfit for human consumption should be the last straw that should break the back of entrenched incompetence and gross inefficiency in NAFDAC and Ministry of Health,” HURIWA affirmed. 

Besides, the Rights group praised Dr Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo and his firm for instituting the suit before the Lagos High Court presided over by Justice Adedayo Oyebanji which resulted in the verdict that revealed that NAFDAC failed Nigerians by declaring as fit for human consumption, Fanta and Sprite products discovered by a test in the United Kingdom as turning poisonous when mixed with ascorbic acid popularly known as Vitamin C.

HURIWA praised the Court for compelling NAFDAC to force Nigerian bottling company to attach a warning sign on its products to stop consumers from coming to harm by drinking Fanta or Sprite with Vitamin C.

In a statement jointly endorsed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the rights group condemned the Health Minister’s rapid release of a clean bill of health for the products of Nigerian bottling company even when the ministry of health also admitted the criminal negligence of both NAFDAC and Nigerian bottling company for failing to caution their customers on the toxic nature of consuming Fanta and Sprite with Vitamin C which is very commonly bought behind the counter by millions of drinkers  of Coca-Cola in Nigeria. 

HURIWA said: “We find it ridiculous and shameful that rather than speak for Nigerians both the Health Minister and NAFDAC officials were busy defending the defaulting Nigerian bottling company as if they are paid agents of the private firm. Why would NAFDAC which failed to appear in court even though it was joined as a necessary party, before the Lagos High Court now be the party rushing to stop the execution of this far-reaching court decision?

“Why is the Minister of Health certifying Fanta and Sprite fit for consumption even when Nigerian bottling company have not withdrawn these products and appended the warning notice on the containers before resupplying back to the markets after fresh thorough test?

“We find the explanation by the Minister of Health distasteful for him to assert that the products tested unfit for human consumption in United Kingdom are okay for our consumption only because of environmental factors? What about the allegations that some substances that cause Cancer were traced in those Fanta and Sprite? Is the Minister a racist or black supremacist to preach that Nigerians can drink unfit Fanta and Sprite which have been found as such in Britain only because we are black Africans who stay in a different environment? This is shameful and amounts to scientific blackmail to play on the gullibility of Nigerians.”

HURIWA recalled that a Lagos State High Court had ordered the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to direct NBC to issue a warning that their products – Fanta and Sprite – should not be taken with Vitamin C.

The court, in its ruling, also awarded N2 million against NAFDAC for neglecting its duties. NBC said the court’s ruling has been appealed.

But Health ministry, in a statement by its Director of Media and Public Relations, Akinola Boade, said that the assurance that Fanta and Sprite are safe for consumption came after the Minister called a meeting of the Department of Food and Drug Services, Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to address the issue.

HURIWA wondered why products the Health authorities in the UK had declared unfit for consumption after Fijabi Holdings exported them to the UK have suddenly become okay for Nigerians only because of our climate. Does poison respect climatic conditions?

HURIWA also recalled that Nigerian health ministry, in its statement, explained that both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) were ingredients approved by International Food Safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the World. 

Source News Express

Posted 20/03/2017 9:49:40 PM

 

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