By Yemi Adebowale
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has disclosed that Chocolate Royale facilities at the headquarters would remain sealed and closed to the public until all the issues are fully investigated and resolved.
NAFDAC sealed Chocolat Royale, a confectionary and multinational food outlet, for various unethical practices including alleged sales of expired products.
Owned by a Lebanese business mogul, Mr. Amin Moussalli, Chocolate Royale is a subsidiary of AIM Group which is the umbrella body for the broadcast stations like Cool FM, Nigerian Info FM, Wazobia FM, Cool TV, Wee TV and Wazobia TV.
Following a tip-off, the agency had raided the factory in Lagos, as well as the house of the managing director and carted away goods worth over one billion naira, which was evacuated from both premises in six vans.
The statement read in part: “The action is sequel to a tip-off and intelligence report which indicted the company of illegal importation, storage and use of expired ingredients and food products used for preparing of food and confectionaries served to unsuspecting customers at Chocolate Royale as well as operating and maintaining illegal cold rooms at their managing director’s residence where large quantities of various expired and spoilt food ingredients worth millions of naira were uncovered.
“To this end, the agency has sealed both the Chocolat Royale facilities at Plot 267A Etim Inyang Crescent and the Managing Director’s residence on No 1, Karimu Kotun Street, all in Victoria Island, Lagos.
“Some top officials of the company were equally arrested for interrogation for willfully obstructing the NAFDAC operatives in course of their duties during the exercises while others have gone into hiding to avoid been apprehended.
“The offending goods worth over N1 billion, have been evacuated from both premises in six vans.
“After the operation which lasted for about nine hours, the Director, Investigation and Enforcement of NAFDAC, Mr. Kingsley Ejiofor, said that six persons were arrested in connection with the incident, adding that they were held for intentionally obstructing NAFDAC officials while on official duties.
“The suspects would be interrogated, while the products will be sampled and taken to the laboratory for analysis, where the labels and contents will be properly analysed. And at the end of the day, when the results are out, that will determine the next of action.”
“The NAFDAC’s director who also doubles as the Chairman of Federal Taskforce on Fake and Counterfeit Drugs, Unwholesome Processed Foods and other regulated products, commended his officers and the entire team for the successful operation despite the antics and intimidations from the staff of the offending company adding that the food and confectionery outlet will remain closed to allow for proper investigation.
“They will be investigated by the Federal Taskforce and NAFDAC. At the end of the investigations, files submitted will be reviewed and after evaluation, we will send them to the legal division which will advice on whatnext to do and if we have enough facts, then will proceed on prosecution.”
Meanwhile, NAFDAC’s Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii, after inspecting the seized products evacuated to the agency’s Enforcement office at Apapa, frowned at the development.
Okonkwo said the DG assured Nigerians that the matter would be thoroughly investigated to ascertain the level of violations to aid prosecution.
He said: “Apart from the products being expired, they were not registered by NAFDAC therefore should not have come into the country in the first place.
“Consequently, he directed that in the course of the investigation, those handling the matter should request the company to furnish them with their clearing documents to ascertain if the offending products were legally cleared at the point of entry.