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Date Published: 09/16/09

Between Akunyili and Nnakwe the fake drug baron


In a recent interview with Pointblanknews in Abuja, Information minister, Dora Akunyili made some startling revelations about her battle with the invisible fake drug cartel based in the eastern part of Nigeria, with headquarters in Onitsha. This ring, she disclosed, is led by one Chief Marcel Nnakwe, with his son, Nnamdi, as second in command. She threw light on her efforts to crush Nnakwe and his gang, the obstacles she met both in court and outside, and the success recorded. According to her, even though NAFDAC was unable to put Nnakwe behind bars, the rate of drug counterfeiting plunged from 70% in 2001 to 16% in 2008, while lorry loads of fake high profile medications were seized and destroyed by NAFDAC. This is no doubt an achievement in a country where hundreds of thousands die yearly after consuming fake medications. Imagine Nnakwe and his gang mixing up labels for diabetes and high blood pressure medications.

Of course, we aware she is one of the frontline advocates for good governance, at least during her reign as NAFDAC boss, however her explanation concerning the agency’s inability to put Nnakwe behind bars is worrisome. Even though the obstacles were quite huge, she did her best, which we acknowledge, was good enough. She directly accused the man of planning to assassinate her, and being the biggest drug counterfeiter in Africa ‘…that I should put a face on the fake drug trade and threats to my life. It was Chief Marcel Nnakwe, the biggest drug counterfeiter on this continent. He is resident in Onitsha. He trained most drug counterfeiters in this country…’


This is how she explained why NAFDAC could not cage Nnakwe ‘We had four cases with him in court at a time, and each time, he would find a way of getting round the cases. Somehow he was getting round the cases and frustrating us until 2003, we identified his warehouses with the help of drug sellers in Onitsha…’ She explained further that after locating the warehouses, NAFDAC prepared a document and asked him to accent to the forfeiture. Why NAFCAC did that Akunyili explained again “Because we had virtually lost out in court. There was an injunction from an Enugu high Court restraining NAFDAC from ever arresting him, or anybody around him…or investigating him, or prosecuting him. That was a standing court order…”

The minister indicted Nnakwe and the police saying “the same Nnakwe and his son Nnamdi, allegedly had a hand in the shooting incident against me. They arranged six people and promised them N6million. …the police got information that I was going to be shot three months before I was attacked and they did nothing.”

Issues are, how can the judiciary allow such a man (Nnakwe) continues his illicit activities despite all the evidence, how can a sitting minister openly indict the police and the issue is ignored. We implore the minister to liaise with other agencies and ensure all those in the business of fake drugs are brought to book and ultimately crushed. It could be a sub plot in the rebranding project, just like Finance minister, Lamido Sanusi sanitized the banking sector. All those (police officers) who tried to sweep the issue under the carpet should be investigated.

No doubt Akunyili has been a pain the neck of fake drug barons, it is then understandable why they want her dead. Most Nigerians wanted her in the Industry ministry or to remain in NAFDAC, even though she was fed up with threats to her life.

She definitely is a good brand for the country and a fresh face for the rebranding project because she has a lorry load of credibility to bring to the table. She is one public officer ready to give her all to ensure a better image for Nigeria. Any information minister needs credibility like hers because when she faces the world leaders, they would take her and Nigeria seriously. Most Nigerians who thought President Yar’Adua made a mistake by giving her the Information portfolio, are definitely having a rethink, because we can all see that Prof. Akunyili is equal to the task.

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