A patent medicine store owner, Amaechi Okoronkwo, has been apprehended by the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria in Nasarawa State for being in possession of 660 bottles of cough syrup containing codeine.
The officer-in-charge of the PCN, Okpalaeke Nwora, disclosed this in an interview in Lafia on Thursday.
He said efforts of the Department of State Services operatives led to the arrest of Okoronkwo and his assistant, Frederick Uchenna, at his shop along UAC Road in Lafia on December 18, 2017.
Nwora explained that the suspect had been evading arrest since 2015, noting that he was apprehended with 11 cartons of assorted cough syrups, containing 660 bottles valued at about N700,000.
He said, “The arrest took place in December, 2017 at his unnamed patent medicine shop in Lafia and if you must know, patent medicine shops or dealers are not allowed to stock or sell cough syrups containing codeine in the first place, not to talk of having this large quantity of the product.
“He has been apprehended and further investigation has commenced. The PCN, under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Elijah Mohammed, will continue to make efforts to ensure that our society is rid of such elements.”
He said investigation showed that the suspect got his supplies from Onitsha, Anambra State.
“In the course of our investigation, we discovered that the products were being supplied to Lafia from Onitsha. You are aware that the PCN and indeed the Federal Ministry of Health has been pushing for the dismantling of all open drug markets across the country,” Nwora added.
The pharmacist said after investigations, the codeine dealer would be arraigned in court to face the wrath of the law.
He said despite the efforts of the PCN, the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control and other agencies, the country, especially the northern region, is facing a huge challenge curbing the abuse of codeine and other substances by the youths.
“There is a huge challenge with codeine cough syrup in Nigeria, especially in the North and Nasarawa State, in particular. This ugly challenge is almost trying to destroy the youths in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the PCN is working out modalities and strategies to combat the challenge,” he said.