A confrontation between drug vendors, touts, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s (NAFDAC) Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, accompanied by mobile police officers, erupted on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The clash unfolded during a raid conducted by the agency’s enforcement team at the FCT’s Area One vehicle park, targeting counterfeit and unregistered cannabis products.
According to reports, hawkers and touts at the park reacted with hostility, hurling stones and sharp objects at the enforcement team and journalists present during the operation.
As tensions escalated, the enforcement team and journalists were forced to flee the scene, while mobile police officers intervened, firing intermittent shots into the air and using tear gas to disperse the attackers.
Regrettably, two NAFDAC vehicles were damaged by the vandals during the confrontation.
In an interview following the operation, Umar Suleiman, Assistant Chief Regulatory Officer of NAFDAC’s Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, explained that the raid was prompted by intelligence received from the Department of State Security (DSS) regarding illegal drug activities at the vehicle park.
Suleiman emphasized the necessity of deploying armed Mobile Police and Investigating Police Officers during such operations due to the potential for violence.
He recounted, “The attack is a normal thing for us in the investigation and enforcement department… But to my surprise, we had not done half of the work when the drug hawkers absconded but mobilised in full force against us, throwing stones at us and destroying the glasses of the vehicles.”
Despite the aggression faced by the enforcement team, Suleiman revealed that they were able to seize prohibited substances worth approximately N5 million during the operation. The confiscated items included aphrodisiacs, cocodamol, rohypnol, Dizapam, and various strengths of Tramadol.
The clash underscores the challenges faced by regulatory agencies in combating the proliferation of counterfeit drugs and illegal drug trade, as well as the risks involved in carrying out enforcement activities in volatile environments.