Mixed reactions have followed the ban on the sale of sniper, a pesticide common in Nigerian homes but which in recent times has become the number one tool for suicide act in the country.
It choice as a tool for suicide prompted the National Agency for food and drug use (NAFDAC) to ban its production in small bottles which is expected to discourage its use at home.
Some Nigerians that spoke with newsmen said placing a ban on the product might not reduce incidents of suicides, but it might, however, affect those whole depend on selling the product to survive.
According to them, there are many ways to end one’s life so banning sniper will not solve the problem.
NAFDAC had on July 11, announced the ban on the sale of the pesticide and other agricultural formulations or dichotomous which is from the class of the Organophosphate chemicals that were poisoning in nature and dangerous to human health.
Speaking with The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), The chairman of the Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Bayo Akinlade said the regulatory organization had a very lax system of control of the regulation of food and drugs in the country.
“The problem with NAFDAC is that they have no control; there are some drugs that are on prescription only, but they are being sold over the counter.
“NAFDAC has never done its job well; it just gets some sort of confirmation from these pharmaceutical companies, give them a NAFDAC number and everybody has to take care of themselves.
“I have a case at the moment, and I went to do some researches. I discovered that NAFDAC does not do any control.
“Each drug has a prescription pamphlet on how it should be sold or distributed, NAFDAC does not follow through on that as well.
“NAFDAC can ban Sniper as they want, people will still get a hold of it; they just made it much more expensive to purchase,’’ he said.
Dr. Tomi Imarah a Consultant Psychiatrist, however, opined that the ban was not going to be effective in Nigeria if done in isolation.
“The sensationalism of suicide on mainstream and social media can occur through repeated reportage.
“It can also occur through the extensive and dramatic description of methods of suicide, underreporting of the role of mental illnesses, overemphasis on the use of suicide as an escape from life problems and so on.
“When we continue along these paths, suicide rates will not decline, even in the face of restrictions or bans on pesticides.
“Many people did not know about Sniper’s ability to terminate life and how accessible its procurement was until it was all over the news.
“If Sniper is banned and the attention shifts to a new method of suicide, you will quickly see a steady rise in the use of that method as well,’’ Imarah said.
However, Mr. Ademola Adewale, applauded the decision of NAFDAC to ban the chemical substance saying the decision was justifiable and made in public interest.
He said “The ban is justified, especially as it has been shown that Sniper had been fingered as the substance used in a number of suicide cases.
“No fundamental right is absolute, and any government is allowed to take certain decisions in the interest of public health, peace, and welfare.
“If the authorities have seen verifiable data that Sniper is being used in instances that it was not intended, then, the government is right to ban it,’’ he said.