James Ojo Adakole
Before now, it was a household product because of its strength in fighting unwanted insects in the house. But Sniper soon turned to become an easy route to committing suicide.
Thus in July this year, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) wielded the big hammer by announcing the proscription of open sales of Sniper, following abuse of the product and its link to growing cases of suicide among Nigerians.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, had while making the declaration in a statement stated that as from September 1, open sales of Sniper would no longer be tolerated.
“NAFDAC is giving a two-month (up to August 31, 2019) notice to brand owners/distributors to recall and withdraw their products from open markets and supermarkets that do not have garden corner/shelves to the agro dealer outlets.
“The sale of Sniper insecticide and other Dichlorvos brands in open markets and supermarkets nationwide is prohibited with effect from September 1, 2019. NAFDAC is giving a six-month moratorium up to January 1, 2020 for brand owners to exhaust the products that are in various accredited agro-input dealers (distributors/marketers/retailers) outlets,” NAFDAC had stated in July.
This came shortly after the agency announced its ban on production of smaller packs of Snipper across the country. “Recently, some suicide cases have been associated with people drinking Sniper, henceforth, we call on the agro-chemical industry to enhance their distribution channels so that this product (Sniper) gets to only accredited distributors and marketers.
“We have also placed a ban on the manufacture of smaller packs of Sniper which are easily purchased for household use,” an online medium, TheCable, had quoted NAFDAC’s Director of Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products Directorate, Husman Bukar as saying at the launch of Lifeline, an herbicide, at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Oyo State.
However, checks by Sunday Sun revealed that the product is still being sold in the open market despite its ban.
Our correspondent who visited various shops in Lagos reports that the directive is yet to get full compliance. Findings, however, revealed that there was a high level of awareness on the ban placed on the product.
At the Ikeja axis of Lagos State, this reporter disguised as a potential buyer to visit some retail shops to find out whether the product was being sold or not. At one of the shops visited, the shop owner, who still has the product in stock expressed fear when this reporter accosted her.
“Do you mean you really want to buy Sniper,” she muttered, wearing a perplexed look. When this reporter replied in the affirmative, she paused, trying to spot the genuineness of the reporter’s intent, and then queried: “Are you not aware that Sniper has been banned?”
After much probing, ostensibly for fear of being nabbed for flouting the deadline, she gestured to a lady, who looked like her daughter to fetch a small bottle of Sniper and handed it to this reporter after a payment of N500 was made.
Further investigations revealed that many who still have left over Sniper in stock are lowering the price of the product to sell off the remaining quantities.
When Sunday Sun visited Alimosho Local Government Area of the state, some of the retailers of the product expressed willingness to sell a size of the product usually sold for N500 at the rate of N400.
A major observation by Sunday Sun was that traders who are still in possession of Sniper are becoming very suspicious of buyers who throng their shops to buy the product. Some shop owners were livid at this reporter, upon discovery that he had no intention of buying the product after much haggling.
“Oga (referring to this reporter), are you buying this product or not? It seems you are here to waste my precious time,” an angry trader fired, after much haggling of price without reaching a compromise.
The implication of this is that many are yet to comply with the ban. “Which ban? People are still selling Sniper,” a lady who simply identified herself as Linda, told Sunday Sun. “My mother still bought the small-sized bottle of Sniper recently for N500. So, I don’t think the banning is really effective,” she added.