In a move that underscores the growing influence of Nigeria’s controversial Attorney General, Michael Aondoakaa, his confidante has been appointed as new director general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Professor Dora Akunyili, who headed NAFDAC for more than nine years, was recently appointed minister of information by the Umaru Yar'adua regime.
Paul Botwev Orhii, the man chosen to succeed Akunyili, is extremely close to Aondoakaa as well Supreme Court justice, Aloysius Katsina-Alu. Sources told Saharareporters that Orhii's appointment was confirmed on December 12 2008 – the same day the Supreme Court gave a split verdict that ratified Yar'adua's “election.”
Prior to being appointed into NAFDAC, Aondoakaa had hired Orhii to serve as the "expert witness" to the Federal and Kano State governments in the ongoing lawsuit against Pfizer, the US pharmaceutical giant, over the company’s Trovan drug trials in Kano.
Saharareporters’ exclusive report on the questionable circumstances of Orhii’s hiring by Aondoakaa led Orhii to sue Omoyele Sowore of SaharaReporters for $25 million in a US District Court in Texas. Orhii’s lawsuit was filed on December 3rd 2008, even though SaharaReporters’ report on his role in the Pfizer case was published in May 2008.
Meanwhile, Samuel Kent, a U.S. District judge handling the case, "Paul Orhii V Omoyele Sowore", was recently charged with aggravated sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact and obstruction of justice, in Texas.
A source within NAFDAC and two sources close to the Presidency told SaharaReporters that they saw Orhii’s appointment as part of Aondoakaa’s scheme to hijack the agency that protects the Nigerian public from the menace of fake drugs. “This agency is a goldmine for anybody who is greedy – because many fake drug manufacturers are willing to dole out huge stacks of cash to evade government watchdogs,” said the NAFDAC source.
The source added that Professor Akunyili, whose tenure at the agency earned positive reviews, was disappointed that the Yar’adua regime gave her an impossible assignment at the Ministry of Information and Communication. “Professor Akunyili had desperately sought a ministerial appointment, but since her appointment, she has privately confided in close friends that she would have been better off continuing at NAFDAC than at a ministry where her job is to whitewash the government’s unpopular image.”
A source in the Ministry of Justice told our correspondent that Orhii’s appointment portends serious danger. “Aondoakaa, who oversees all prosecutions of fake drug criminals, is set to take over NAFDAC the same way he took over the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The EFCC has become a lapdog of corrupt politicians since Aondoakaa took it over,” said the source.
Also today, the Yar’adua regime announced the appointment of Polycarp Nwite as senior special adviser on political matters.
Federal Government Press Release:
YAR’ADUA APPOINTS NEW DG FOR NAFDAC
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has approved the appointment of Dr. Paul Orhii as the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Dr. Orhii who has a Doctorate Degree in Neuro-Pharmacology takes over from Mrs. Dora Akunyili who was recently appointed Minister of Information and Communications.
He has over 20 years cumulative working experience in the field of medicine in Nigeria and the United States of America. President Yar’Adua has also appointed Senator Polycarp Nwite as his Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters. Senator Nwite who hails from Ebonyi State was a member of the Constituent Assembly between 1988 and 1989 and served as a Senator from 1992 to 1993.
Olusegun Adeniyi Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity)
January 9, 2009