by Musa Abdullahi
Following the deaths of 38 people in Rivers state and a similar incident in Ode-Irele, Ondo state due to the consumption of locally made gin popularly called Ogogoro, the Federal Government of Nigeria has announced a total nationwide ban on the consumption of the gin.
The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Paul Orhii, who made the announcement at a media briefing in Abuja, Monday warned the general public against the consumption of the gin which has turned out to be deadly due to its toxic contents.
“The public should desist from the consumption of unregistered locally made spirits (Ogogoro) and other unregistered bitters. The government will confiscate all illegally brewed alcoholic beverages across the country, ” he reiterated.
The NAFDAC boss was joined at the media briefing by the National Coordinator of the National Center for Disease Control ( NCDC), Abdulsalami Nasidi.
According to Orhii: “Preliminary investigation by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) ruled out any infectious diseases and confirmed the possibility of poisoning as the cause and in turn advised NAFDAC to conduct further investigation.
“The symptoms suffered by victims included vomiting, abdominal pain, blurred vision, headache, dizziness and loss of consciousness with subsequent sudden deaths of 18 victims.”
He explained that: “Results of the laboratory investigation revealed methanol toxicity. Five samples were found to contain high concentration of methanol (Ogogoro) which is unwholesome and unfit for human consumption.
“Blood methanol concentration above 1500-2000mg/L will certainly lead to dead in untreated patients.”
Speaking, the National Coordinator of NCDC, Prof. Nasidi said his center would work in collaboration with NAFDAC to fight against the illegal production of locally gin.
“We are working to combine force with NAFDAC to launch an attack on these people. We will immediately confiscate their products.”
“All locally produced methanol must be checked before releasing it to the public. We need to sensitize Nigerians on the need to beware of the locally brewed gin.”
The general public have however been advised to immediately report and evacuate to the nearest tertiary health institution any suspected case for prompt medical attention as according to him.