By: Emmanuel Ibitoye
Members of the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria are set to stage a protest at the Lagos office of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in response to the recent ban on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in sachets.
In an official statement, the association announced the peaceful demonstration scheduled for today (Tuesday) at the NAFDAC Office on the Lagos-Oshodi Apapa Expressway, Isolo, Lagos. The protest seeks to challenge NAFDAC’s prohibition of alcoholic drinks in sachets and PET bottles.
The move comes in the wake of NAFDAC Director General Prof Mojisola Adeyeye’s announcement on Monday regarding the agency’s enforcement of the ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.
Adeyeye emphasized NAFDAC’s collaboration with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure effective enforcement of the ban, emphasizing the need to halt production and phase out the banned products.
During a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Adeyeye disclosed that enforcement actions commenced nationwide on February 1, 2024, following the expiration of the window period given to manufacturers to sell off alcoholic drinks in the banned category. She expressed concern over some manufacturers still in production of these banned products and possessing stocks of both finished products and packaging materials.
The agency views this as a violation of Nigerian laws and has committed to employing statutory means, possibly including prosecution, to address the matter. Adeyeye urged holders of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET and glass bottles, empty sachets, PET bottles, empty glass bottles, and other packaging materials of the banned products to report to the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate of NAFDAC for immediate hand-over to prevent stringent measures, including prosecution.
In January 2022, NAFDAC halted the registration of alcoholic beverages in sachet and small volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml, based on the recommendation of a committee comprising representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and industry stakeholders.
Producers of alcohol in sachets and small volume agreed to reduce production by five percent from January 31, 2022, with a complete phase-out in the country by January 31, 2024. NAFDAC is committed to ensuring that the validity of renewal of already registered alcoholic products in the affected category does not exceed the year 2024.
Adeyeye emphasized NAFDAC’s dedication to strict implementation of regulations and measures aimed at safeguarding the health of Nigerians, particularly vulnerable youth, against the dangers of reckless alcohol consumption. The Director General warned that individuals mostly at risk include the under-aged, commercial vehicle drivers, and riders.
The World Health Organization’s recommendations to policymakers, effective in curbing alcohol abuse, include regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages and restricting their availability, as stated by Adeyeye.