Following rising cases of suicide and attempted suicide by Nigerians across different age groups and social status using Sniper, an insecticide, the federal government recently banned its public sale and distribution.
According to Director-General, National Agency for food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Moji Adeyeye, the agency gave brand owners/distributors till August 31, 2019 to recall and withdraw the product from open markets and supermarkets, saying sale in open markets and supermarkets nationwide is prohibited with effect from September 1, 2019.
She said such products should only be used for outdoor purposes and not private homes.
Despite the ban, Sniper is still visible and on sale in open shops and supermarkets in several parts of the country.
Joy Isil, a shop owner at Jabi, Abuja, said: “Since it was banned we stopped selling it. We only sell in litres to those who fumigate houses and they have to come with proof that they want to fumigate. The ban has affected our business because we no longer sell the small size container of the insecticide which people patronize more. We are doing this to comply with the directive.”
Malam Usman Abdullahi, another shop owner in Jabi, said; “I used to buy it in large quantity, but since the ban I have stopped and the number of people buying has reduced drastically.
“Though the government is doing this to reduce the suicide rate, they should also enforce the ban and make sure it’s totally out of circulation because it is not enough to issue directives, there should be proper sanctions on those found wanting,” he added.
Another shop owner who preferred to remain anonymous, said he had a large quantity of Sniper which he bought before the ban and there was no way he could stop selling it except the government compensates him to avoid loss.
Mrs. Gloria David, a shop owner in Wuse Market, said though she no longer sells it, she still thinks the matter should be centered on addressing the reasons people commit suicide and not the substance used.
“Most Nigerians, especially the youth, suffer from depression on daily basis. You find out that there are lot of graduates today without jobs, moving from one place to another in search of greener pasture, most times when the job is not forthcoming, they tend to resort to ending their own lives and in such cases, you won’t really blame them. A person who has suicidal thoughts can decide to use any other means if Sniper is not available,” she said.
Another trader, Mr. Shuaibu said; “I cannot stop selling it because the stock I bought before the ban has not finished. If the federal government wants us to stop selling it then they should compensate us. After the compensation, they can arrest anyone found selling the insecticide.
“We are appealing to the federal government and relevant bodies to address the factors that lead to suicide instead of concentrating on the substance used.”
In Lagos, despite the ban, some still sell the product while others have removed it from their shelves. During a visit to Dopemu, a road-side market woman who pleaded anonymity told our reporter that she still sells the product, but avoids displaying it. When asked to produce it on the pretext of buying, she said she didn’t have it immediately but promised to help get it.
“People close to me have warned me not to sell it. Although, I still buy and keep in case a customer wants to purchase it. From what I heard, it will take up to two months before the ban takes proper effect,” she said.
She further said the product has become more expensive compared to before. At the Ojuwoye market in Mushin, Sniper is still being sold without any fear. When our reporter visited Justrite Shopping Mall in Dopemu, there was no Sniper on the shelf. But on enquiry, the salesmen showed our reporter Sniper spray.