The Purported Federal Government’s Ban on Sniper: Baseless, Unjustifiable, Unreasonable, Unfounded, Unlawful and Illegal By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
Today, the 20th day of June, 2019’s media report revealed the Federal Government of Nigeria’s intended or planned ban (unless there is a written official publication of such ban) on Sniper 1000EC-herein after referred to as the product-, much more reasons given for this necessary action is the fact that the product has found its way into the hands of youths who have continued to use it to commit suicide. This report is headed on some online-blogs, and other media, such as Leadership online newspaper, etc. This paper is of the reasoning, argument and submission that such planned or purported ban by the Federal Government-herein after referred to as FG is ‘baseless, unjustifiable, unreasonable, unfounded, unlawful and illegal’.
Extracted part of the report was to the effect that ‘the federal government yesterday placed a restriction on the sale and use of the fatal agro-chemical product, Sniper. Since Sniper hits the Nigerian market, it has become the favourite of most Nigerians, especially the poor for killing mosquitoes and other pests. Similarly, the product has found its way into the hands of youths, who have continued to use it to commit suicide. In recent times, several Nigerian youths have committed suicide at the least provocation including failure in examinations, jilt by loved ones, using Sniper. It is against this background that the federal government yesterday directed that the product be withdrawn from the open market with immediate effect. The government’s directive, which will be enforced by the National Food, Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), was made public in Ibadan, Oyo State. By the order, the agency will ensure that all agro-chemical dealers and other stakeholders remove Sniper from both the open market and supermarkets across the country with immediate effect. NAFDAC’s director, Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products Directorate, Dr Bukar Usman, stated this at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan. Usman, who spoke at the launch of a new herbicide for cassava farmers, “Lifeline”, produced by UPL, Springfield Agro and IITA, explained that the agency had asked agro-dealers to stop the sale of the product in the open market and supermarkets. He said that Sniper is an agro-cultural product meant for use only in the farms and not for households. For the full enforcement of the restriction, he charged manufacturers and dealers to cooperate with NAFDAC to mop up the 100ml size of the product, which was cheap and easy to acquire. Usman said that the directive was not an outright ban on the product but a restriction of its use and availability to farms alone, adding that all agro-chemicals meant for farms should not be used in households. He said: “There are appropriate products for the control of mosquitoes and other household pests” he said.’
I have quoted out the above report so as to analyse the said statement to discover the basis, justification, reasonability, lawfulness and legality or otherwise of such planned ban on the said product from both the open market and supermarkets across the country with immediate effect.
First and foremost, I would not belabour this paper by defining the above words used in the title of this paper (that is: BASELESS, UNJUSTIFIABLE, UNREASONABLE, UNFOUNDED, UNLAWFUL AND ILLEGAL). These are words in the dictionary.
The FG has not provided how the suicide committed by some persons has been the fault of the product or the manufacturer or distributor of the said product. More so, is the availability of the product in markets the cause of the said suicide or that instigates or instigated the suicide?! What is the logic (or philosophical reasoning) behind the reason or ground for the ban vis-à-vis cause and effect of the alleged suicide?! In my humble view, with due respect to the FG, what the producer or manufacturer or the distributor does is to make the product available for use economically. So, what individual does with it is the individual’s problem and not the products or its manufacturer or distributor’s fault. The FG did not convince us as public that when the product was used for the purposes that it was made for, it endangers human lives or that it is toxic and has caused some negative effect on the users. More so, I have read the label on the white plastic bottle of one of the products which is commonly sold around and I have also examined the provisions of the ‘NATIONAL AGENCY FOR FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION AND CONTROL (NAFDAC) PESTICIDE REGISTRATION REGULATIONS, 2019’-herein after referred to as the NAFDAC’S PRR- and I have not seen where the said product has violated any of these provisions. There are precautionary statements on the label of the product as prescribed by the NAFDAC. In fact, Regulations 9 and 10 of this NAFDAC’S PRR and which provides for the information that the label of the product under the Regulation shall contain and the contents of precautionary statements respectively thus
(1) All pesticides shall be legibly labelled in English and may include any other language (s). (2) All pesticide labels shall be as approved by the Agency. (3) All information required to be indicated on the label shall be prominent, and distinct. (4)Labelling shall be informative, accurate and shall not be false or misleading. (5)The labelling of pesticides shall be in accordance with the Agency’s Labelling information (1) The label of a pesticide shall specify conspicuously the name and manufacturing location address of the manufacturer, and the name of the Certificate of Registration Holder.
(6) All Pesticide shall be clearly labeled with the following precautionary statements (7) A statement directing the user to read the label, this statement shall be in the following form “READ THE LABEL BEFORE USE”; (8) The Pesticide is not to be ingested. (9) A person shall wear appropriate personal protective equipment while handling pesticide. (10) The Pesticide should be kept out of reach of children. (11) Warning or cautions and hazard statements;’.
From the foregoing, it is my humble view that the said product has fulfilled all the above requirements of the Regulation.
Furthermore, the FG’s justification that the product is only for use on farm is unjustifiable. More so, the pests within the households due to bad environment are not quite different from what we have on farms. Also, there are farms and bushes around homes and in fact within homes that require the use and availability of the product in the homes or households. Furthermore, cockroaches for instance, have a very strong life in themselves but the product is a very good pesticide for these cockroaches.
Furthermore, I am of the view that the step planned to be taken by the FG is contradictory to the provisions of section 16(1) (d) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which provides on the economic objectives of government thus 16.—(1) The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution— (d) without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sectors of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy. (2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring— (a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development ; (b) that the material resources of the Nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good ; (c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a group ; and (d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare for the disabled are provided for all citizens.’.
Therefore, it is my humble view that the banning of the product from markets is likely to cripple the economy of the manufacturer and its distributor as well as cause the inability to be able to pay salaries to workers which might lead to unemployment of youths and or Nigerians already engaged in the services. And this will become an avenue to destroy the company’s economy and permit the economy to concentrate in the hands of some few persons who perhaps are even economic enemies of the company.
So, in my humble view, if a person does not find the product, are there no other things that such person can as well use to commit suicide?! The answer is Yes! Therefore, I am of the submission that the government rather taking this planned decision on the product (which to me, is such like chasing the smoke while allowing the fire to inflame), should rather have a dialogue with the company in charge of this product, members of the public and other stakeholders on the root cause of suicide rather than only concentrating attention on what was or has been used to commit suicide because, the ocean or river will not be banned by the government simply because someone jumped into it to commit suicide, so as a building will not be demolished simply because someone jumped down from it to commit suicide! More so, government should be up and doing in performing its responsibilities and if government makes adequate proactive findings, all these cases of suicide will definitely stop, I believe!
Finally, having said the above, I am of the firm view that banning of the product in market is like destroying the economy of the product’s company and such is likely to add to the issue of unemployment in the country. Also, banning is not in any way a solution rather, government should work more on its socioeconomic duties to the citizens. It is when the socioeconomic rights of Nigerians are denied that attempt to commit suicide comes into the mind of some of the victims. Continuous orientation, mass entrepreneurship trainings, implementation of the Child’s Rights’ Act, welfare packages for citizens as provided in the Chapter II of the Constitution, among others will likely solve this problem of suicide among Nigerians and not only youths are capable of committing suicide and succeed in committing same (even though it is an offence under the law to do so), rather, any person can be a victim. May God not make us victims and may He inspire the heart of the depressed to see the attempt at taking his life as evil and to avoid same! While I salute the belated attempt of the government to find solution to the menace of suicide, I still do not agree with the FG that banning the Sniper in markets is the solution to curbing suicide attempt by Nigerians. Therefore, I finally submit that the ban on sniper by the FG is baseless, unjustifiable, unreasonable, unfounded, unlawful and illegal.
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