Sequel to Cynthia Osokogu's murder; Federal Govt set to ban Rophynol (date rape drug)

The Federal Government is set to ban the sale of Rohypnol, otherwise known clinically as Flunitrazepam, a sedative with hypnotic effects that was administered on Miss Cynthia Osokogu by friends she met through the social media before she was killed in a Lagos hotel.

Also described as a ‘date rape’ drug, Rohypnol, which is sold over the counter in many countries worldwide, is a prescription drug in Nigeria although many 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, told State House correspondents yesterday at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja that the decision to ban the drug 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 explained that the decision was informed by the fact 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”.

The FEC, presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, also approved the establishment of the Nigeria National Pharmacovigilance Policy (NNPP) to ensure that adverse drug reactions are properly managed.