Sun News reports that a middle-aged man, Kenneth Ajie, is now cooling his heels at the headquarters of the Delta State Police Command in Asaba after he was arrested in his house at Ovwian in Udu Local Government Area of the state.
His offence? Ajie had allegedly converted his apartment to a factory where he solely produces wine without any form of licence from the regulatory agencies, including the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
He has been selling his brand of non-alcoholic wine which he named ‘Rex’ to unsuspecting consumers within markets in the area since 2019 when he claimed that he ventured into the illegal enterprise.
But speaking to our correspondent in Asaba where the state Commissioner of Police, Ari Muhammed Ali paraded him alongside other suspects for various crimes, Ajie insisted that his product was not dangerous to human health.
Ajie said because of lack of funds, he could not properly establish a factory where he would be unleashing his latent skill to create unemployment.
As a result, the school certificate holder said he is the sole producer, sole distributor and sole marketer of Rex Non-Alcoholic Wine, as he had no money to engage more hands and ensure quality control.
“I am here because of the wine that I produce which has no NAFDAC number yet. I started in 2019. I just said, let me be doing it little by little until when there is money to go for the licence.
“It is not a pirated product, I produce it myself. And I gave it the name ‘Rex’ which is my son’s name to make sure that I do not pirate another product.
“If you look at the bottle, it is my real address that is there, unlike others who will use fake address. My factory is not hidden, and I knew that one day, the government through the police, will come after me,” he said.
He said he learnt the skills to produce non-alcoholic wines between 2004 and 2006, adding that he could not immediately establish for lack of funds.
Ajie said he was also pushed into the venture because of the desire to put an end to importation of certain products in Nigeria.
“I had no money to establish and I needed to unleash my potential because this is a gift on my own. Everything cannot just be foreign. It’s not everything you import. This is my own personal experience, my handwork. I decided to be doing it little by little until I am able to get somebody to sponsor me.
“I’m a freeborn of this land, I am a Nigerian, a Deltan. So I am seeking sponsorship,” he stated.
He named the materials used for the production to include sodium bicarbonate, colouring, flavour, sodium benzoate for preservative and citric acid.
“The name is not Eva because I don’t want to pirate another product. I gave it my son’s name, Rex.
“After producing, let’s say like ten cartons, I will put them in Keke and move from market to market. Sell the little I could and go back to the house and manage my life with it,” he explained.
He claimed that patronage was not encouraging, apparently because of the non-recognition by official agencies, but maintained that his product has no side effect and was not poisonous.
“I process it myself. I was trained for it, and I am doing everything myself because it is still a one-man business. There is no money to go that commercial.
“That is why I am still crying to Nigerians to come and rescue me. This is my own skill. I can help to reduce unemployment if given the necessary support.
“Nigerians should not condemn the vision which I have got and I can use to support the country in my little way. I am challenging them to go to the lab and test my product to know if it is poisonous or not because I know what I am doing.
“At a time I saw a NAFDAC official, but the requirements they need will cost me a whole lot of money, especially the site and equipment needed to be put in place and all that. This boils down to money.”
Regardless of his lamentations, the police boss, Ali said the suspect would have his day in court at the end of investigation.
Ali said Ajie was arrested on April 16 by operatives of the State Police Command’s Anti-Cultism Unit who embarked on a sting operation in conjunction with civilian Anti-Cult Volunteer Corps.
He said the suspect produces fake wines in his house, and operates without any licence or NAFDAC approval.
“According to the suspect, he sells the wine for N300 per bottle and N3,600 per carton. He confessed that he bottles the wine himself by using bottles that have already been used and disposed. He buys these bottles at N10.00 each, and he also buys the cork from the open market.
“He claims he washes the bottles himself, corks the wines himself, and sells to members of the public. He works alone and produces about one to three cartons per day,” the CP said.