Crime & Punishment of Friday, 22 February 2013
Source: Daily Guide
A businesswoman has found herself in the dock for allegedly importing and distributing into the Ghanaian market, 481 cartons of fake Tres-Orix Forte medicine valued at GH¢120,215.50.
The accused person, Rita Fordjour, aged 52, allegedly distributed the said poisonous drug to the Ashanti Region and Northern parts of the country.
She was arrested by the Food and Drugs Authority and later handed over to the police for further investigations.
Rita Fordjour appeared before an Accra Circuit Court yesterday on two counts of importation of drug without permit and deception of consumers with counterfeit drugs.
After pleading not guilty to the charges, her lawyer, George Asamaney, prayed for bail for her, stating that his client was known to be doing genuine business.
According to him, she bought the drugs from one Oke Chuku and since she was not an expert, she did not know they were fake.
He informed the court that the accused had been in custody for over 48 hours and that there were people of substance to stand sureties for her and to ensure that she avail herself to the court throughout the trial.
The prosecutor, DSP Abraham Annor, objected to the application on grounds that they would need the accused for some days to assist them to retrieve the drugs from the market.
According to him, there were other harmful drugs to be seized through her.
The trial judge granted her bail in the sum of GH¢50,000 with three sureties, one to be a public servant and to report to the police once every two weeks. She is also to deposit her passport with the registrar of the court before February 25.
Before the court made any orders, the judge inquired from the investigator the entry points of the drugs. The investigator indicated that they were still investigating the matter to establish the exact entry point.
The judge, who observed that the accused was arrested with certain documents including invoices, receipts among others, questioned why the signatories to them were also not arrested.
Mr. Obiri, who indicated that it was not only the accused who was involved in this business, asked the police and Food and Drugs Authority to get to the root of the matter by extending their investigations to the borders of the country to arrest all those who allowed the medicine into the country
According to him, it was the only way the problem could be solved for Ghanaians to be safe and protected.
Briefing the court on how the accused was arrested, DSP Annor disclosed that the accused person was a businesswoman and resident of Koforidua in the Eastern Region.
He indicated that the Food and Drugs Authority recently received various complaints from the general public about the flooding of the Ghanaian markets with counterfeit drugs and therefore started monitoring.
According to him, in the last quarter of 2012, intelligence gathered by the authority suggested that a consignment of counterfeit Tres-Orix Forte drug, originally a product of Kama Group of Industries, was being illegally imported into the country from China.
Based on the information, undercover agents went into surveillance and discovered that Rita Fordjour was part of a syndicate which was engaged in smuggling of counterfeit medicines and had imported a large quantity of Tres-Orix Forte for distribution into the Ghanaian markets.
DSP Annor said on February 18, 2013, operatives from the authority, with assistance from National Security, managed to arrest the accused in a house at Haatso when she dispatched a consignment of the counterfeit drugs to a police undercover agent for distribution to Ashanti and the Northern parts of the country and beyond.
DSP Annor said the police retrieved a total of 481 cartons, each containing 25 bottles of 250ml of the Tres-Orix Forte, with a market value of GH¢102215.50.
In her caution statement, the accused reportedly denied importing the medicine, adding that she got it from a Nigerian by name Oke Chuku at Okaishie in Accra.
However, a search conducted in her room at Koforidua led to the discovery of import documents in both Chinese and English language, showing that she bought the drugs from a company in China through someone else.
A further search in the room of the accused allegedly revealed import documents of drugs such as Vermox and Zental albendazole, Panadol among other medicines.
Meanwhile, Kama Group of Industries, according to the prosecutor, has denied knowledge of the drugs.