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NAFDAC laboratory seeks approval to test weaponised chemical

by Business News Report

NAFDAC laboratory is set to receive approval to test prohibited chemical weapons from the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). When approved all chemicals associated with weapons of destruction, can be tested in the NAFDAC laboratory Nigeria and Kenya are the only two countries in Africa so chosen for consideration by the global body. Experts from the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, (OPCW) visited the NAFDAC’s central laboratory in Oshodi, Lagos to inspect and assess the facilities to be deployed for the global assignment. Officials of OPCW based in The Hague, Netherlands, came with some experts on laboratory assessment from the Finnish Institute of Verification of Chemical Weapons Convention, (FERIVIN) in the University of Helsinki.

Dr. Roman Warchol, the Leader of the team, expressed satisfaction with the facilities provided by NAFDAC, saying they were comparable to whatever could be found anywhere in the advance economy of the world. He said they came to Nigeria to assess the NAFDAC’s laboratory and see the level of competence and the equipment available for the possible designation of the laboratory. “I’m very happy and satisfied with what I’ve seen here,’’ the OPCW official said. Prof. Maoji Adeyeye, ,the NAFDAC boss, said she was excited because the experts from Hague and Helsinki were overwhelmed with the Agency’s facilities, adding that they were highly impressed by the competency of NAFDAC staff and the level of understanding. We did all our presentations. There was little or no questions. All we are now discussing is level of improvement, areas that we should improve to make it a bigger say. They were overwhelmed by the commitment of the Agency and the National Authority for Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention (NAC&BWC) in Nigeria, and the Federal Government to the project,’’ she said.

Adeyeye explained that “we are not at war, yes, but we are not only to be testing for Nigeria. We are not only going to be testing the samples that will be used in Nigeria. In Africa, we are only two sites, Nigeria and Kenya that are being considered for this. We will cover the West Africa and some parts of Africa and the world. Wherever there are skirmishes or the use of weapons, it might not only be war situation, NAFDAC could be invited to draw sample(s) and then test for the possibility of using harmful chemicals that could be lethal to people,” she said. Adeyeye said that in line with her mandate and to effectively cover regulations and control of industrial and laboratory chemical, NAFDAC would undertake the monitoring and control of chemicals through the Directorates of Chemical Evaluation & Research, Narcotics and Control Substances, and Laboratory Services (Food & Chemicals). Going down the memory lane, she disclosed that on 23rd February 2018, the then Chairman, National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention (NAC&BWC), along with his delegate, visited the NAFDAC Central Laboratory, Oshodi to assess the facility on ground for participation in OPCW testing of materials associated with Chemical Weapons.

“In October 2018, we participated in the CCACT-097. The Agency has now improved to the score of Very Good in our last participation CCACT-15 in October 2022.’’ She said that the Nigerian Federal Government, through NAC&BWC, provided an intervention fund in February 2020 valued at about N735m to provide various equipment for the laboratory, adding that through internally generated revenue, more equipment pieces were added. Since then, the Agency had used her IGR to add more equipment pieces. She said that the Agency would also expand the laboratory space for OPCW in the new building to be constructed soon. 

‘’The assistance and contribution of the United Kingdom in assessing and improving the technical competence of laboratory in OPCW member States in Africa and Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) regions which we benefited has helped since 2021 to improve our performance and technical capacity’’, she said. Adeyeye said that NAFDAC staff had participated in the mentorship programme by Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention VERIFIN Helsinki. She said this was done virtually until their physical training in February 2023.  

According to her, these efforts helped to improve technical ability of staff and their reporting techniques. Due to importance of the OPCW project to the Agency and the efforts of the international partners, she said the oversight office was moved in January 2023 to Director General Office to underscore the importance for the country. “We are highly indebted to the International Cooperation and Assistance Division, OPCW, for facilitating the Memorandum of Understanding and implementing the assistance,’’ she said, adding that the National Authority had been proactive at endorsing NAFDAC’s application for CCACT-testing. Adeyeye assured of the resolve of NARDAC to strive to obtain the OPCW- Designated status in no distant future.

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