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JUST IN: Federal Government Insists on Relocating Kano Medicine Dealers to CWC

Over 1,321 medicine shops at Kano’s Sabon Gari open market were closed for more than a week after a Kano High Court ordered their relocation to the Coordinated Wholesale Centre, Dangwauro. The dealers under the aegis of NAPMED cited high rent, security, and distance as the reasons for their reluctance to move....CONTINUE READING

They protested against the closure of their shops last week Monday and Thursday.

Sealed shops at Mallam Kato

Ibrahim Isha’u is among the thousands of Kano medicine dealers at Sabon Gari open market who have refused to relocate to the Coordinated Wholesale Centre at Dangwauro along Zaria Road.

He cites high cost of rent, security concerns and distance as parts of the reasons for their reluctance.

“We have about 5,000 shop owners here, but they (CWC) provided only 900 shops and they want us to move there,” he complains.

“They pay N35 million on each shop there but here we pay only N350,000 for rent. If you want to rent there, you will pay N2 million.”

Unlike Isha’u, another dealer, Fidelis Okonkwo who was seen at Dangwauro, says he pays N600,000 rent in his double shop at Mallam Kato, but just purchased a new shop worth N14 million at the CWC.

Despite the distance, he acknowledges that some of the protesting wholesalers already have shops at the new location.

“While coming this morning, I saw so many of them coming here. But none of them is coming with their full mind because here is far,” he says.

“I got my shop here for N14 million which is very expensive compared to what we have at Mallam Kato. Though this place is a bit bigger than what is in Mallam Kato.”

Another medicine dealer, Salisu Ibrahim, who relocated from Mallam Kato a few years back, acquired two shops worth N16 million at the center.

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He could not afford to pay outrightly. He paid 10 percent of the cost while Jaiz Bank loaned him the rest for an agreed five-year tenor.

According to him: “I was renting at Mallam Kato for N500,000, but now here is our own. I bought two shops – each is N8 million.”

Salisu’s medicine store

PCN Insists on Total Relocation 

The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) Act 91 of 1992 prohibits the sale of medicine in open markets. Drugs are only to be sold at a coordinated wholesale centre where they can be regulated.

Despite signing an irrevocable undertaking on 25 January 2019 – as cited by Nigeria Info – to relocate to the CWC in seven months’ time, the drug marketers defaulted, leading to years of dispute with PCN.

The dealers, under the aegis of the National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED), had a long court feud which eventually ended in favor of the PCN on 16 February 2024.

This led to the closure of the market on Monday, 19th February, 2024 by NAFDAC.

The Director, Investigation and Enforcement of NAFDAC, Francis Ononiwu insists all medicine dealers must be housed at the CWC, alleging the presence of illegal dealers at the open market.

“All imported and locally produced products that come into Kano must come here first – the wholesalers will house them in warehouses which they own,” he tells Nigeria Info.

“Retailers and hospitals can now buy the drugs which they can administer to their patients. In this coordinated wholesale centre, you have all the regulatory bodies that can regulate drugs.”

On his part, Pharmacist Stephen Esumobi, the Enforcement Director of PCN, says the relocation is aimed at protecting public health.

He insists on total relocation despite Kano Government’s intervention.

According to him: “as long as those people are selling there, their activity is a threat to public health. Most of the products they are selling there are substance of abuse.

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“Most of those people that are complaining now have shops here and in the market.

“They will move! if you say the timing is short, from 2019 till date –five years! It is enough for anybody to move; we are not giving them any time.”

NAPMED Divided over Relocation Order 

Corroborating NAFDAC and PCN’s claim, a factional chairman of NAPMED, Usaini Labaran, who is in support of the relocation, alleges some of the adamant members are retailers and those who sell expired drugs.

“What they are selling may not being in conformity with what is expected to be here. Here, the goods have to be kept in a very good condition which is good for consumption.

“There are others selling addictive products to children.

“They know that there is regulation here – there is NAFDAC and PCN – they don’t want to come here because they will not be allowed to do these normal things they are doing.”

He also indicates that “there are people who have fear of the unknown – they are used to that place (Mallam Kato) – they are thinking that if they come to this place, they may not prosper.”

The NAPMED boss adds that the shops were quite cheap when the project commenced in 2018, with Jaiz Bank agreeing to shoulder 90 percent of the purchasing cost to be repaid over five years.

However, another factional chairman of NAPMED, Musbau Yahaya, has vowed to appeal the 16 February court ruling.

Business Booming at CWC

When Nigeria Info visited the Coordinated Wholesale Centre (CWC), Dangwauro for a situation report, we observed that the center has two blocks labelled A and B with over two thousand shops.

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Business was alive with most of the traders confirming to be former wholesalers at the Sabon Gari open market.

Shops at CWC

There is a police station within the CWC with a heavy presence of soldiers, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and Civil Defence operatives.

Police station and security operatives at the CWC

Health Minister Visits Center, Identifies with Legitimate Drug Dealers

The federal government has identified the Kanawa Coordinated wholesale Market as regulated and the only legitimate environment for medicine wholesalers.

The Minister of Health, Ali Pate, visited the center last Friday and said only legitimate drug dealers would be accepted at the CWC, encouraging stakeholders to key into the move.

“Only legitimate businesses that want to sell pharmaceutical products are encouraged to come and participate in the market,” he mentioned.

Minister of Health, Ali Pate at the CWC, Dangwauro

Civil Society Organizations Support Relocation

A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have also urged medicine traders at the Muhammad Abubakar Rimi market to comply with the directive to relocate to the Kano Economic City at Dangwauro.

The seven CSOs under the aegis of Kano Unity Forum endorsed the move at a joint press briefing in Kano on Saturday, warning illicit drug dealers against destroying the future of Nigerian youths.

The convener of the group, Alhaji Gidado Muktar, who frowned at the resistance of the medicine dealers, implored the government and security agencies to fuel their efforts in enforcing the relocation.

He, however, thanked Kano State, the federal government, the NDLEA and the media for their support in curbing illicit drug sale and use.

Kano Unity Forum Press Briefing

As the matter develops, most of the stakeholders in the sector believe any process aimed at safeguarding public health should be encouraged and done in a coordinated manner.