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NAFDAC, Reps Lift Ban On Sachet Alcoholic Drinks

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The House of Representatives and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have lifted the ban on the sale and consumption of sachet alcoholic beverages.

Both bodies say the decision will remain in effect until the economy recovers from the current downturn, according to Philip Agbese, the Deputy Spokesman of the House.

NAFDAC had banned the production of beverages in small sachets and bottles for reasons not unconnected with the prevailing cases of drug abuse in the country, especially by some young Nigerians.

However, in February, the House of Representatives directed its committee on NAFDAC to investigate the circumstances surrounding the agency’s ban on the production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and small bottles.

The directive was sequel to a motion moved on the floor of the Green Chamber by members Paschal Agbodike and Philip Agbese.

During a briefing at the National Assembly Complex on Friday, Agbese announced that the decision to temporarily lift the ban was reached following a meeting between the House Committee and NAFDAC officials.

“During the meeting, we all agreed that, at a certain point in history, it is essential to advance alongside our global counterparts.

“However, we also concurred with NAFDAC that there would be a temporary lifting of the ban until the economy recovers its strength.”

Speaking on how the decision was reached, Agbese, who represents the Ado/Ogbadigbo/Okpokwu Federal Constituency, Benue State, told journalists in Abuja that, “There was a motion before the parliament to investigate the activities that led to the ban placed by NAFDAC on the use and sale of sachet beverages in the country.

“In its wisdom, the parliament delegated the House Committee on NAFDAC, led by Hon. Regina Akume, to investigate the matter and report back. The committee dutifully carried out its legislative function as mandated.

“We engaged with various stakeholders, including NAFDAC and the organized private sector. During our meeting, resolutions were reached based on submissions from stakeholders, civil society organizations, and other interested parties.”

He added that the recommendations presented to parliament included the view that the ban was untimely given the current economic realities.

He said, “The five-year moratorium granted by NAFDAC, the impact of COVID-19, and other ongoing economic challenges have made it difficult for industry operators to comply with the terms.”

“After that, the parliament in its wisdom adopted the House Committee Report as a whole. Following the questions we received yesterday (Thursday) after the final meeting we had with the leadership of NAFDAC headed by Prof Mojisola Adeyeye; we all agreed as a government, parliament at one end and the executive in charge of that agency to, in the interest of the masses of our country and the mood of the nation, that the ban be suspended.

“The lawmaker said that the modalities for lifting the ban will be publicly announced by July. He stated, ‘We have agreed to convene in July to finalize the details, with NAFDAC’s Director General expected to have outlined the temporary removal process by then.”

Fielding more questions from journalists on the sidelines of the briefing, Agbese dismissed the idea that lifting the ban could lead to increased health risks associated with the sale and consumption of alcohol in small sachets.

Agbese pointed out that cigarette packets display warnings in multiple languages indicating the health risks of smoking. Despite this, many people continue to purchase and smoke cigarettes. He emphasized that adults have the right to decide what they consume, citing it as a fundamental human right.”

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