In a move geared towards the abuse of prescription drugs and its effect on individuals, the Federal Government is set to ban the sale of Rohypnol, clinically referred to as Flunitrazepam, a sedative with hypnotic effects – the type that was administered on Miss Cynthia Osokogu by friends she met through Facebook before her untimely death in their hands at a Lagos hotel.
Often described as a ‘date rape’ drug, Rohypnol, which is sold over the counter in many countries worldwide, is a prescription drug in Nigeria even though many chemists/drug stores hardly restrict its sale. It has also been banned in some countries where it was used for similar nefarious purposes.
Shortly after Osokogu was killed, four persons – Okwumo Echezona Nwabufo (33), Ejike Ilechukwu Olisaeloka (23), Orji Osita (32) and Maduakor Chukwunonso (25) – were paraded by the police in Lagos for her murder in August.
Nwabufor and Olisaeloka told the police how they had lured her from her base in Nasarawa State, drugged and strangled the victim in order to steal her valuables.
Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu revealed the decision to ban the drug yesterday at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja. He told newsmen that the decision was informed by the need to curb its abuse.
Act No. 43 of 1989, which established the National Drug Formulary and Essential Drugs List, empowers the government to prohibit importation into and manufacture in Nigeria of any drug not on the list. Chukwu said his ministry had directed the National Drug Formulary and Essential Drug List Committee to look into the possibility of banning the drug.
According to him, “I have directed the appropriate body, which is the National Drug Formulary and Essential Drug List Committee, which is established by a separate law in this country, to immediately look into whether we should ban the drug or not.”
He further justified the decision by saying that “in some countries, the drug has now been banned and it was also for a similar reason (rape) that those countries decided to ban that particular drug”.