The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouq, has said the bags of rice distributed to states were ‘tested’ by the National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC).
However, NAFDAC has dismissed the minister’s claim, saying it was never invited to inspect the rice sent to Oyo, especially those that were reportedly contaminated.
The federal government had ordered the Nigeria Customs Service to donate 1,800 bags of rice each to Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states, and 800 bags to Ondo State as parts of efforts to cushion the effects of coronavirus on residents of the four states.
However, three days after taking delivery of the rice, Oyo State Government, through the special adviser to the governor, Debo Akande, at a press conference rejected the rice, saying they were not fit for human consumption.
Ms Farouq while reacting to this claim said the rice “was handed over by the Nigerian Customs Service having being assessed by NAFDAC“.
“As you may recall, we mentioned here that we distributed the rice relief to the states. The rice was handed over to us by the Nigerian Customs Service and it was assessed by NAFDAC, who issued a clearance before the goods were released for onward distribution to the states.
“So, as far as we are concerned, the rice was certified fit for human consumption,” she said.
The Nigeria Customs Services Oyo/ Osun Area Command, also told PREMIUM TIMES that Oyo State government “was not fair to the service.”
The public relations officer of the command, Abdullah Lagos, said the command suspected foul play.
”We gave 1,800 to Oyo, 1,800 to Osun, 800 to Ondo and 1,800 to Ekiti. We did not choose for them. Why is it that it is only Oyo State that is rejecting the rice,” he said.
Contrary to the claim of the Customs chief, however, Ondo State also complained that some of the rice it got was unfit for consumption.
However, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye said her agency was not invited “to test the rice” distributed to Oyo State as claimed by the minister.
Mrs Adeyeye who spoke on Channels TV on Tuesday said the agency was only invited to take samples of rice from Idi-Iroko, Ikeja, and Ogun state “but was not asked to test and certify the ones in Ibadan from where other South-west states got their allocations.”
“We got an invitation to sample rice from Idi-Iroko from Ogun and Ikeja Customs. Our staff went to Idi-Iroko and Ogun to sample the rice and they also went to Ikeja to sample rice, some of the samples are still in our lab in Oshodi. We tested the samples and they passed.
“The one for Oyo State, I cannot say anything because NAFDAC was not called by the Ibadan Command or the South-west command of customs to come and check samples in Ibadan.
”So, I cannot say anything about the Ibadan Command rice that went to Oyo and possibly to Osun State,” Mrs Adeyeye said.
Minister insists rice was inspected
Mrs Farouq while speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday said members of her ministry got a certificate “issued by NAFDAC”.
“We still stand by what we said because this was what was conveyed to us by Customs and we have a certificate to that effect.
“The certificate indicated that the rice given to us is fit for human consumption and that was before I even flagged-off the distribution in Lagos state. We will make that certificate available later today, ” she noted.
She, however, said both agencies of government (customs, NAFDAC) would sort out the obvious communication gap.
“Let me also remind us that NAFDAC, Customs, and the ministry respect each other’s mandate while carrying out our respective responsibilities.
“So Nigerian Customs Service and NAFDAC, I am sure will sort the communication gap and we will report back to this platform once that is done,” she said.
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