The federal government yesterday placed a restriction on the sale and use of the fatal agro-chemical product, Sniper.
Since Sniper hits the Nigerian market, it has become the favourite of most Nigerians, especially the poor for killing mosquitoes and other pests.
Similarly, the product has found its way into the hands of youths, who have continued to use it to commit suicide.
In recent times, several Nigerian youths have committed suicide at the least provocation including failure in examinations, jilt by loved ones, using Sniper.
It is against this background that the federal government yesterday directed that the product be withdrawn from the open market with immediate effect.
The government’s directive, which will be enforced by the National Food, Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), was made public in Ibadan, Oyo State.
By the order, the agency will ensure that all agro-chemical dealers and other stakeholders remove Sniper from both the open market and supermarkets across the country with immediate effect.
NAFDAC’s director, Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products Directorate, Dr Bukar Usman, stated this at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
Usman, who spoke at the launch of a new herbicide for cassava farmers, “Lifeline”, produced by UPL, Springfield Agro and IITA, explained that the agency had asked agro-dealers to stop the sale of the product in the open market and supermarkets.
He said that Sniper is an agro-cultural product meant for use only in the farms and not for households.
For the full enforcement of the restriction, he charged manufacturers and dealers to cooperate with NAFDAC to mop up the 100ml size of the product, which was cheap and easy to acquire.
Usman said that the directive was not an outright ban on the product but a restriction of its use and availability to farms alone, adding that all agro-chemicals meant for farms should not be used in households.
“There are appropriate products for the control of mosquitoes and other household pests” he said.
Reacting to the development, the president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, told LEADERSHIP that NAFDAC has a responsibility to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
According to him, if a product that is supposed to be used for vectors and diseases is being used by humans to kill themselves, it behooves NAFDAC to take action.
He, however, said that while NAFDAC is taking the measure, the government holds it a duty to find out why more Nigerians are committing suicide.
Ohuabunwa said: “If you ban this product, what else are they going to use. Is NAFDAC going to keep banning products? It’s important to try and find out what it is that is making people, especially the younger ones to commit suicide so we don’t end up banning everything that is available.”
Also, a family physician with the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital and former chairman of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Chira Obiora, said that though the move was commendable, “it is not the solution to the problem.”
Obiora said: “A lot of people drink a lot of things when they want to commit suicide. Withdrawing Sniper does not make it not to be seen. There are several other things that can be taken to commit suicide.
“There are positive uses of Sniper insecticide, banning it is not the approach. If you want to solve a problem, you will solve it from the root. When people jump into the river, will you go and dry up the river. It is not the right thing to do so that we don’t end up increasing the rate of depression by also causing depression on the people that are importing Sniper.”