Nigerians have continued to express their views on last Tuesday’s clampdown on a popular Chinese store in Abuja – Panda Supermarket, over suspicions that the store allegedly discriminated against some consumers, sold expired products and illegally imported seafood and animals that may spread Coronavirus, describing the measure as in the best interest of consumers nationwide.
The sting operation led by the Director General of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Barrister Babatunde Irukera, led to the partial closure of the store as a section of it was quarantined over fears of the sneaky virus.
He said the inspection was as a result of credible reports the Commission received on the activities of the mall and the inspection confirmed the allegations.
The development led to several reactions by Nigerians, with many urging the Commission to extend the inspection to other foreign outlets in Lagos and other parts of the country.
Majority of the commentators on the saga told Daily Trust that the commission’s latest step would further complement sustained efforts of the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to protect Nigerians from consuming unhealthy foods and drugs being supplied into the market by product adulterators.
Interestingly, they expressed delight that the FCCPC carried out the clampdown on the mall in collaboration with other regulatory agencies, including the NAFDAC.
A twitter user, Augustine McAngus, raised concerns over FCCPC’s linking of the imported seafood and animals to possible spread of the sneaky Coronavirus in country.
“Like it takes 2 weeks to import from China. Please, consider something else, not Coronavirus in imported goods,” she twitted.
The FCCPC boss, Irukera, responded: “Possibly, even less. Also, the question is, going forward, is this a preventive measure that is appropriate to preempt the spread in coming days, weeks, months…?”
Mallam Ali Yahaya, a resident of Abuja, described the step taken by the commission as a good move.
He said: “The Coronavirus is a deadly disease that we have to take aggressive measure against. We, the developing countries, do not have the facilities to contain it if it comes in like the developed countries do.
“I think the step taken by the commission in charge is in the right direction, though it will affect business and customers that patronize the supermarket. But the agency should not stop there; they should be on the watch out for more places like this.”
Oyeyinka Esther, who has patronised the supermarket before said: “I bought milk from them last December, my daughter noticed the milk tasted somehow, I was surprised. Never going there again,” she said.
Another respondent on Twitter who calls himself Abuja Carpenter said some of these foreign supermarkets cannot sell expired goods in their countries.
“These are foreign products in a foreign supermarket. This is what these foreigners are doing to us because they believe we have a system that does not checkmate all these things. This business and its owners should be deported.”
In her comments, Aisha Aliyu, an employed mother based in Kaduna, said close monitoring by government is very important given that Nigeria does not have the capacity to manage such disaster.
Aisha also noted that the monitoring should not only be done in Abuja and Lagos, stressing that there are such supermarkets in other states that may be importing and selling expired and prohibited products and are not checked.
She said shutting down the supermarkets could be a way of preventing it from coming into the country but also encouraged government to suspend the entry of any Chinese from China at the moment.
Shehu Umar Futee, an Economist and Data Analyst, said closing down the stores as a precaution to stop any spread in the Abuja metropolis was a proactive move by the government.
He said although customers will be affected, “I think it is better safe than sorry. I will suggest all vendors who source their products from Asia be placed under watch too. We can’t afford any outbreak of the Coronavirus here. We already have Lassa fever to contend with. So, I commend the government for this move.”
Irukera said the inspection was as a result of credible reports the Commission received on the activities of the Mall and the inspection confirmed the allegations.
“Seafood and animals imported illegally from China discovered. Store closed in abundance of caution considering Coronavirus,” the FCCPC disclosed in a statement posted on its official twitter handle.
The Commission said products with expired and irregular shelf life were also discovered at the supermarket.
“Regulatory activities to remove all offensive products from the supermarket continue,” the Commission disclosed.
The Commission displayed some of the products with expiry and irregular dates discovered at the supermarket.
Among the offensive products recovered from the supermarket were packaged ginger labelled valid till February 14, 2073; Blacl Carp which expired in November 23, 2019 and packaged chicken gizzard valid till March 06, 2039.
Daily Trust visited the supermarket yesterday but none of the staff agreed to speak on the development.
Attempts to reach the management of the supermarket were unsuccessful as the two contact phone numbers on the store’s official website were switched off.
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