66 confirmed dead in Rivers’ ogogoro tragedy

Abdulsalami Nasidi

Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi

NAFDAC bans local gin 

NO fewer than 66 people have been confirmed to have died in Rivers State following their consumption of locally made gin popularly known as ogogoro or kaikai .

Meanwhile, sale and consumption of Ogogoro, also known as Ekpeteshi, has been banned by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The Director, Public Health, of the Rivers State Ministry of Health,Dr. Nnanna Onyekwere, told The Guardian yesterday in PortHarcourt, the Rivers State capital that the deaths have extended to four more local councils: Ahoada West, Degema ,Gokana and Abloma in Port Harcourt City Local Council.

The earlier affected councils are Bonny and Woji in Obio/Akpor. Onyekwere lamented that despite public sensitization and warnings, people still consume the locally made gin believing it has been in existence before Nigeria’s independence and had not been injurious to anyone’s health .

The Director, expressed hope that with the outright ban of the drink by the Federal Government and intense security checks within the state, the death toll would be curtailed.

He however urged people who have contact with the drink to make themselves available to the Ministry and state government to enable them get urgent medical attention.

Clinical investigations of the deaths by the Rivers State Ministry of Health pointed to the consumption of ogogoro as the primary cause as the drink was believed to have contained methanol, a deadly poison.

NAFDAC therefore warned that it would begin immediate confiscation of all illegally brewed alcoholic beverages which are readily served at local joints as well as in shops.

During a joint press conference with the director-general of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof Abulsalami Nasidi, in Abuja, the director-general of NAFDAC, Dr Paul Orhii said the agency can no longer fold its hands and watch Nigerians destroy themselves.

He also decried the fatality rate related to the incident, saying: “People should stop consuming ogogoro, unless they want to embark on a suicide mission.

“The symptoms suffered by the victims of methanol-poisoned gin include vomiting, abdominal pain, blurred vision, headache, dizziness and loss of consciousness,” Dr. Orhi said. In April this year, 18 persons died in similar circumstances from consumption of locally brewed gin believed to be contaminated with methanol at Ayadi and Irele local councils of Ondo State.

With this development, NAFDAC is following the lead of Rivers government which has slammed a ban on locally brewed gins Widow to one of the victim, Mrs. Paulin Akpan has urged government to stop at nothing in tracing the origin of the poisoned drink and ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.

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1 Comment
  • Mohamed Zubairu

    It is quite true that people have been consuming the locally made liquor before Nigeria got her independence. I drank it a little bit as a teenager before I gave up drinking of alcohol. Since the habit has been long in people all over Nigeria, it will be challenging to dissuade people from taking it. We need a more robust approach to conduct a successful campaign to stop its consumption. Seizing it on sight by NAFDAC official is a fire brigade approach that cannot eradicate it. The substance looks just like water and the odour is suppressed when refrigerated.
    There is a need to educate the people on the harmful effect it has on people and the reason why. There might be a need to educate the people how to distill in such a way that it will be harmless. If we don’t do it this way, the people would think that the banning of it is an act of victimization of the poor by those in power.