Sweet sweet codeine: Nigeria’s cough syrup crisis – BBC Africa Eye documentary

Sweet sweet codeine: Nigeria’s cough syrup crisis – BBC Africa Eye documentary


Codeine cough syrup is causing a plague
of addiction across Nigeria. This thing is a serious issue, it is biting everybody, it’s going from one home to another. If you think you are safe you’re not safe. Those hooked risk organ failure and even descent into madness. He is shouting
He is screaming He is still having his withdrawal symptom,
he is still having withdrawal issues now. Addicts are being clapped in chains
because syrup has turned them into thugs. I don’t want you to get close… This is what cough syrup does… I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this. I weep for this nation because they don’t even know what they’re doing, they don’t even know what they are taking. Africa Eye goes undercover exposing the crooks and professionals professionals putting industrial
quantities of syrup or Nigeria’s streets. This is a product I know that if I have
one million cartons, I can sell it in a week. We will take you into a criminal
underworld where pharmaceutical company managers. act like drug barons. Where there are lots of school kids,
as soon as they get a taste for it, they’ll keep pestering you for more. We join crack anti-drug squads putting their lives on the line to smash up syrup cartels. This is the frontline against the war on syrup. This is ******* unbelievable. And we ask: is the government doing enough
to stop the people behind this this? These drugs are not coming from the moon. They’re not coming from under the sea. They are manufactured somewhere. They are transported from one place to the other. Are we saying that we don’t know? Come on. “That was so stupid.
It was so dumb.” “I don’t see what people
get out of being high.” People all over the world are addicted
to cough syrup with codeine. It’s a medicine that has become
a street drug. A sweet, sweet strawberry taste
that makes you high and hooks you. Over time it will kill you. “Yo, codeine.” I can search my Facebook page and find
hundreds of videos of people getting high. It’s America, it’s in South Africa,
it’s in my country – Nigeria. In just two states the government says 3
million bottles are consumed every single day. A lot of these people have no idea
what they are getting in to. They have no idea that as much as
it’s a recreational hip thing cough syrup is very addictive. It will take them to places they do not
want to go. It’s so bad that our government is sending
armies of drug agents to destroy syrup They raid our cities in the dead of
night “Syrup. Syrup *****.” The National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency or NDLEA are out on the streets every week in northern Nigeria. Squads of agents ready to take on
heavily armed drug gangs. Tonight, they’re not looking for
heroine or crack cocaine. They are looking for codeine cough syrup. As the NDLEA trucks pulled up people
scattered and hid. The SWAT team storms seedy hotels
looking for dealers and users. There’s a heavy smell of weed! Officers told us men take women to these
hotels for sex often drugging them first with a codeine cough syrup cocktail. Mixed with coca-cola the women get high
and vulnerable to rape. In one room we found two men having sex with a young woman while two other men watched. The agents found an empty bottle of Biolin codeine cough syrup hidden in the roof. Hold this bottle please. -It’s Biolin?
-Biolin. This is the frontline against the war on syrup. This is how serious taking codeine is. This is ******* unbelievable. More than 20 people were arrested. Huge amounts of taxpayers’ money is being spent on fighting codeine cough syrup but we are not winning this war. Criminals are too smart and too many, so the syrup keeps on flowing. It’s not hard to find Nigeria’s boys
getting their syrup high. If someone wants to get some,
how easy can you get it? Oh, it’s very easy. The more we like it,
the more we get it. Even now, if you like it, it is
easy for me to purchase it for you. It’s not hard to find Nigeria syrup girls either. Even religious women drink it. Campaigners who want codeine syrup banned,
believe the scale of the problem is massive. Most extended families have had
an experience of cough syrup addiction, either by a boy or a girl, even a parent.
So it’s beyond every imagination you could think of. Has anybody asked the obvious question in Nigeria,
where is all this syrup coming from? And how does it get on our streets? I suspected crooks inside Nigerian pharmaceutical companies might be secretly selling it to the underworld. but in order to prove this I needed to
work with the best. When it comes to digging out corruption in Nigeria,
few are better than Adejwuon Soyinka, the editor of BBC Pidgin. We began at the bottom of the food chain,
meeting with dealers and cult gang members in Lagos. If we spoke to these criminals openly as journalists, we could have been killed. We needed to deploy secret filming equipment. I mean that’s the only way of being able to do this
and remaining alive, actually. I had to create a new identity
for myself and presented myself as a businessman who is really very greedy
and you know is willing to go into any business that is able to bring in money. So we came up with the most despicable
cover story for Adejuwon you can imagine. He pretended he was a businessman
who wanted to buy large amounts of syrup… to sell to students and children. Going under the fake name “Mr Johnson”,
Adejuwon made his way through gang contacts, pushing for links to crooks
in pharmaceutical companies, aware everyone was suspicious of police agents. Eventually we got our first big break. Just find a way to park the car in such a way
that if we need to leave quickly, we’d be able to do so. These early stages were very nerve wracking.
They were scary for every single member of the team. Sources gave us a tip-off about a major supplier to the black market – a pharmacist called Mr Pascal. On the surface he runs a normal pharmacy
but behind the scenes he illegally sells cough syrup to gangs. He does this, we later found out, with the help of a corrupt employee working for Lagos based
Emzor pharmaceuticals – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria. I was introduced to this guy by the guys
in the underworld. They belong to a network. So, I was worried, could they possibly
spring a surprise, you know. But as it turned out,
they were willing to do business. -Have a seat.
-Anywhere here? Sure. It took a while to encourage or convince the
pharmacist that I actually meant business. He was basically
asking probing questions wanting to know who I was and where I came from and
check out my claims to being a genuine businessman. I can go to the market and meet my Emzor distributor
and tell him I need hundred cartons. He’ll make it available for me. But if you go, they cannot even sell one carton to you
because they don’t know who you are. Everybody is being cautious.
Do you understand? Yeah. I wouldn’t want something that will land me
up in the police net or NDLEA net or anything. Eventually when he got convinced that
actually meant business then he opened up and told me about how the business is
conducted and how he gets his own supplies from sales reps of
pharmaceutical companies. I do distributorship.
I do distribution for Emzor. These products, if I want to get them,
it’s going to be easy for me. I will establish the relationship between you and
the reps of the brands you want, and I will call them,
they will come. So he takes products from pharmaceutical companies
and then rather than sell with prescription, passes them on to the underworld
where these things are sold openly on the streets to young boys who
basically abuse it and get high on syrup with codeine. So that’s what it does. – Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
– You’re welcome. I will expect your call later today or should I call you? What time should I call you? I’ll call you before the day runs out. By the end of the meeting
Mr Pascal agreed a deal. He would set up a meeting for us
with a man from Emzor Pharmaceuticals who supplies the black market
direct from the Emzor factory. And once that first break came,
it became a waterfall. Unlike most street drugs codeine cough
syrup is produced on an industrial scale. Dozens of Nigerian companies legally
manufacture it. It is not illegal to drink codeine. But it is to sell it to people without a doctor’s prescription or a pharmaceutical licence. Vast quantities are seized and destroyed
by the government every year – tonnes of it in northern Nigeria last year. But even this fire has hardly even
singed the illegal trade. In Lagos, syrup’s impact
has become crazy. One pharmacy has been forced
to turn into a fortress to defend itself against
thirsty codeine addicts. So when we first opened the pharmacy
we did not have this burglar proof. We just had this security door
and over time we’ve had to install this because of the challenges
we were having with security. People who come in for the syrups
and the rest, so we had to install this. Mr Idowu stopped selling syrup in 2010 but this hasn’t stopped addicts wanting their codeine fix from trying to attack his staff. Business is now done through security bars
and CCTV monitors everything. They just come, codeine, codeine, codeine
or code, code, give me code. I’m like, these guys, you are too young for this.
You don’t even know what you are taking. Just down the road from Turmeric Pharmacy, we found guys openly drinking
codeine syrup at a bar. Do these people actually know the negative effect,
side effects of this product? What it will do to them psychologically? Physiologically?
You know how it damages their organs and the rest. And I weep for this nation
because they don’t even know. They don’t even know what they are doing.
They don’t even know what they are asking for. Codeine addiction could lead
to a number of things. It could lead to almost
every organ failure. People can have inflammation
of the pancreas, pancreatitis. People can have liver damage,
people could have kidney damage. You could all kinds of damages –
that is even in the long run. In the short run people become
schizophrenic, literally mad. The day after our first meeting with corrupt pharmacist Mr Pascal, we met him again at a restaurant. And as promised he brought with him an Emzor
employee to discuss an illegal cough syrup deal. We could never have imagined
who he would bring. Not a small-time factory worker, but a Business Development Executive of Emzor Pharmaceuticals. Chukwunonye Madubuike, seen on the right. Despite knowing we had no licence to buy codeine syrup and wanted to sell it to students, Madubuike got straight to business. Normally, if you are not a pharmacist;
if you don’t have a pharmacy shop, I shouldn’t supposed to sell it to you.
Do you understand me? That aside, we are here
for business. He has a deep knowledge of the distribution
channel for pharmaceutical products. Both official and the unofficial. And he also gave me a deeper
understanding of and into why cough syrup business is
big business in the underworld. This is a product that I know that if I have
one million cartons, I can sell it in a week. – If you have what?
– One million cartons. I can sell it in a week. – Really?
– It’s a product that the demand is high. Higher than even the production.
Higher than even the supply. He was telling me look, this product is
highly addictive so you will make your money. You will make your money because
you can mark up the price and those who consume it, because they are
hooked on this product, on codeine… They have no choice but to buy a cough syrup
with codeine from you at whatever price
you have placed on it. You know drug addicts. When an addict comes up,
and he comes and there is no money. He wouldn’t mind dropping even the key
of his motor car just to satisfy that urge… Satisfy that urge immediately. Be super smart and vigilant.
It’s a paradise! The biggest irony is that
this meeting held on a Sunday. So, this Business Executive of Emzor Pharmaceuticals,
who is clearly making money, feeding on the back of the addictive nature
of cough syrup with codeine, came straight from church
to hold this meeting with me. Thank you very much. I look forward to us doing very,
very useful, good business. I say nobody has ever met me
for business and regretted it. We left that meeting
with a deal sealed. Madubuike agreed to sell us a carton
of 60 bottles of cough syrup with codeine straight out of the Emzor factory. Codeine cough syrup is personal to me. Showing you who is responsible for the
codeine addiction is my story too. Yeah, this is C as a baby. This would have been early 80s. Very handsome child. Still handsome. And I still love him, a lot . My brother, who is called C, has struggled with addiction. He didn’t want to appear in this film but has agreed I can tell his story. He has taught me what addiction can do. His troubles began a few years ago after our father, Godwin Agbroko – an investigative journalist like me – was assassinated. My family found out the terrible news in a
phone call from my then newspaper editor. He said, Ruona I can’t lie to you, we have to go to press and I just realised nobody has told you people. And I said, wait, wait, sir, what’s going on? And he said, your Dad is dead. I’m not going to lie and this is the first time I’ve said it openly. I felt relief. I felt relief because we knew he was going to be killed for a long time. There was so many threats, so many. We had people follow us because of what he used to write. My father was killed for fighting injustice.
And it tore our family apart. I went the way the way of work, and my brother went the way of drug addiction. Grief pushed him into a bad crowd, as it does to many addicts I have met. Sometimes I think, if my Dad was here… …would things be like this? Who’s to say things wouldn’t be like this hey? They could still be like this. Once C fell into addiction, he quit school disappearing for months. I found out he was using codeine syrup through messages on his Facebook page. Some journalists pursue stories for fun or for money. I am pursuing cough syrup in anger, in rage, in love. I do it in memory of my father. I do it for the love of my brother. If I can stop just one family, one person from going through this… If one person can see what signs to look out for then I think I will have done my job. A few days after our first meeting with Emzor Executive, Madubuike, he called and gave us a location for our cough syrup drug deal – a hotel on his turf in the Lagos suburb of Isolo. We booked a room at the hotel and drove there with a bag stuffed with cash to make the purchase. Adejuwon met Madubuike in the bar. Hey my brother, how are you? What’s up?
How is work? How is everything? When I walked into that bar he gave me the impression that he came alone. But I noticed that there were about five young men who sat in different corners of the bar and pretended like they didn’t know him. But I got a sense when I walked in that there was a connection between all of them. And I could sense that they were all sizing me up. Bring it and we just go upstairs together. You know, at every point there was a fear that they may just have discovered who I really am and maybe setting up a trap for me to just walk in and take me out. Because these boys could be armed. It’s the third floor they put me on. The places where we had to do these deals in Isolo were at the bottom of the ladder. And understandably so. Because that’s where this type of criminal activity will thrive. That’s where it’s better protected. That’s where the henchmen are. That’s where the foot soldiers live. – Sorry, that is my friend.
– Okay. – Oscar.
– Okay. Oscar this is my friend as well and my business colleague too, Mr Johnson. Take this thing. Take key, tear it. A pack of Emzolyn codeine syrup was put on the table. That’s it. OK. So this is two, four, six, eight, ten. I asked him how do I knew if what I was
buying this fake. He brought out, you know, opened the carton by himself, brought out a bottle of Emzolyn and showed me several signs that he used to know if I was buying fake or not. Now this is the batch number. When you look at it, this L-9-7-4-W. 9-7-4-W, that is the batch number of it. While he was saying all of that, you know, all that was going through my mind was how many lives have been ruined by cough syrup with codeine. The same product that this guy was selling to me, knowing full well that I was going to potentially distribute this to university students. To children that have been sent to school to learn. But hence I release to you is direct from the oven. It’s oven baked. It’s oven baked.
Fresh, freshly baked. Look at the carton. It is sealed, it’s sealed with Emzor. Let me tell you one thing; this thing is like an addict. When somebody is addicted to something, you get me? And he needs it – the price I don’t think is an issue on this. And when a person knows that he gets the best quality. – They go for you.
– They feel you. Let me get the cash then. The fact that he knew that this was addictive, he actually told me himself about how addictive this product is. And he had no qualms about selling a carton of sixty bottles to me. It’s 92,000 naira. It’s complete right? – How much is it?
– 9-2 After this meeting with these gentlemen, it was clear to us that Emzor Pharmaceuticals is leaking cough syrup with codeine. And it’s leaking that directly to the underworld and fuelling addiction on the streets of Nigeria. Go and do exploits! Let me tell you one thing about the business. I’m a core business person. You want something that will benefit him, and at the same time benefit you. We are working on trust. And of course he’s been calling me ever since then. I mean he started calling me like four or five days after making the drop off because he wanted more money. Adejuwon poured the Emzor syrup down into the Lagos sewer. We didn’t want it to end up on the black market, or in the hands of an addict. Emzor Pharmaceuticals told us it’s investigating Mr Madubuike, adding he has access to a very limited amount of Emzolyn with codeine and could not possibly sell large quantities illegally. The company says it is a responsible and compliant business , is reviewing distribution policies and treating our findings with the utmost seriousness. Mr Pascal and Stella Charles pharmacy did not respond to us. This is the evidence that people sell codeine products without a prescription. And as we have gathered this evidence now, our only hope is that this trouble won’t be for nothing. The government needs to wake up. The pharmaceutical industry needs to wake up. Pharmacists in Nigeria and all over Africa need to wake up and make sure this kind of thing does not happen again. To make sure young people don’t get access to this kind of thing on the street. Because this kind of thing destroys their lives. 1,100 kilometres north of Lagos in
Kano the volume of cough syrup leaking out of pharmaceutical companies
and onto the black market is clear. The head of the Drug Enforcement Agency in the city commander Hamza Umar showed me his storage rooms where drugs seized from criminals are kept. Now we are going inside the main store where these exhibits are kept, right inside you can see. Inside the store is a mountain of drugs. Cocaine, heroine, weed but also thousands of bottle of cough syrup intended for the streets. It’s hidden in rice sacks, bags and even wedding gifts. Everything you see here is codeine, everything. Let me move some bags of these because you see there are many. You can hear the sound of the bottles, you can hear the bottles clinking. If you like you can look at the heavy ones, all is codeine, you can see the ones they are white. That’s codeine and too heavy. You can the hear the way it sounds. All is codeine. It wasn’t just sacks – some of the syrup looked as though it was straight out of the factory. Now here ,you can see we have tonnes tonnes tonnes tonnes of it. – Just one product.
– Just one product and seized from one person. – One person had this?
– Yes, Yes. The war against cough syrup in Kano is overwhelming. This thing is spreading like a bushfire in the dry savannah. And we are seeing, the rate this thing is moving, I will say we are getting towards a hopeless society. And it crosses all classes, no matter the level- rich and poor, educated and illiterate, a beggar and a toddler. But this must be a very huge drain on your resources, on your budgets, and even on your men. It is, it is. It is, it is, it is and don’t forget this is what we are able to arrest. We may not arrest 10% considering our capacity, our logistics and the men. And to take that ten per cent of syrup off Kano’s streets Commander Hamza’s men must risk their lives battling codeine gangs. Some officers have even been killed. We raided a house and suddenly I just saw somebody with this dangerous weapon. What did he do? He tried to like as in cut off my leg. But I was so lucky it was only my flesh that he was able to remove. He sliced off your flesh there. Of course yes. The array of weapons used by gangs dealing in syrup shocked me. It’s like props from in Nollywood war film
except this is real This chainsaw was recently even used to attack one of our officers. But before he could get to the person one of our armed men took off his leg. – Shot him?
– Yes. This is mostly used when they have overpowered you. They use this saw to make sure that they “pieces” you. Decapitate you? While you are alive? While you are alive. How do you feel when your men almost lose their lives trying to stop cough syrup from getting on the streets? Sad, very terrible
It’s seriously a hectic task. – Stopping cough syrup?
– Yes, it is seriously a hectic task. Almost all of the cough syrup I saw in the Commander’s storage rooms were produced by two companies. Peace Standard Pharmaceuticals and Bioraj. The city of Ilorin in central Nigeria is the codeine cough syrup capital of the country. Tonnes and tonnes is produced here every year. It’s where the Peace Standard and Bioraj factories are based. We checked into a hotel remaining undercover throughout our stay – disguising ourselves as business people with cash in our suitcases, hungry to buy cough syrup from the black market. Syrup dealers were everywhere.
We couldn’t trust anyone. Sometimes we could get a sense that people were trying to eavesdrop on our conversation, you know. They were actually really after understanding who we were and what we were doing there. And trying to get to know exactly what we came for. Peace Standard Pharmaceuticals has a large factory on the edge of Illorin. We got an invitation to meet with a senior figure at the company, Superintendent Pharmacist, Mr Kamaldeen Abu Saeed. It’s a fairly big premises. Mr Abu-Seed had told us we should mention his name at the gate. And immediately we did that it was like open sesame. We were ushered in. The Superintendent Pharmacist, Mr Abu-Saeed, had been called before government authorities just a few weeks before we arrived to explain why their codeine syrup was on the black market. We wondered, would he be willing to do a syrup deal with us? Morning, good morning. How are you today? As soon as we mentioned cough syrup he
did not flinch, he did not waver. He did not betray any emotion. Other than to lean forward and tell us to continue speaking. You know, some of my friends mentioned
to me the fact that the codeine business is doing well. But there is a caveat. As we both know, I would require some form of permit to be able to sell or even take products. which I do not have and which
I believe I cannot possibly get because I am not a certified pharmacist. But I’m hoping that I could get products, and actually my target market in Ogun state is students because I hear that this product moves a lot among them; among students. The long and short of it is that, I’m ready to do business with you, like you said. Although I must also state that that product is a very scarce product. Instead of throwing us out of his office Abu-Saeed, was prepared to do business – but only if a smokescreen was in place. You know I’m meeting you for the first time but I feel I should open up some things to you. To tell you the nitty gritty. For example, in your own case now, if on a normal platform, if I want to release to you, you must have a pharmacist fronting for you. Do you get? That will front for you, when you need to collect such things. Maybe you have a business agreement with them. So you will now help us supply? We will now supply through that pharmacy outlet. Supplying a pharmacy outlet is legal but
supplying that outlet in the full knowledge it is a front for black-market
buyers is not. We outlined the plan again just to be sure this was what Mr Abu-Saeed was advising. – Suppose we start by say attaching ourselves to –
– To a pharmacy outlet – That is already able to take product from you.
– Established, yes. – And just for the purpose of – you know – a smokescreen to have other product and then have the codeine product that is primarily our target. Can we go through that process? You can now – that is what I am advising you. Here is a pharmacist, respected, senior, known in the industry, contributed to academic journals and he was teaching me how to beat the system, how to subvert the system. Peace Standard told us Mr Abu-Saeed did not teach us to subvert the system or advise setting up a front. It said the company does not supply syrup with codeine illegally and only supplies accredited outlets. With syrup finding its way out of
pharmaceutical companies and onto our streets, it’s no surprise we have
millions of addicts in this country. Some of them end up in government
rehabilitation centers alongside people with mental illness I visited this one. I visited this one in Kano. It’s one of a dozen in the state. It’s a place of nightmares. This cough syrup addict was found out of control in the city, arrested and brought into the centre a few days before. – He is shouting.
– He is screaming. He is still having his withdrawal symptom, he is having his withdrawal issue now. Staff chained him to a tree. He was too violent
to be close to others. This is what cough syrup does… This can be anyone’s brother. This can
be anyone’s husband. This can be anyone’s family member. The only way to stop it is for people to stop selling this thing to people, they need to stop selling it. The rehab centre does not have the funds to deal with the number of syrup patients it receives. Addicts are often chained to the floor. Overuse of codeine affects the brain, causes insanity in some cases – and some addicts become violent They will stay like this for weeks, swarming with flies. No books. No television. Nothing. And still they keep coming. As I’m talking to you its alarming. For every week that passes, before we could get may be two or three within a week but now we see 7, 8, sometimes even 10 within the week. Many of the cough syrup addicts are suffering – shivering and unstable with withdrawal symptoms. I spoke to a young man chained to the floor. We agreed to hide faces out of respect. Honestly, the side effect of codeine is really huge. It is very easy and common for one to go mad as a result of taking it. It makes one completely gone berserk. In one room, we found a girl of just 16 years. She’s been in the centre two months, feeling weak and still shaking as the syrup leaves her system. Her message to others is simple. Honestly I will advise them not to go into it if they haven’t already – it will ruin their lives. It really breaks my heart to see children like this and see young men like this. Honestly, it’s really really bad. And everybody knows the situation of this codeine now. It’s not a hidden thing. We can’t lie to ourselves and we can’t deceive anybody. The truth should be told. And when I say it out that this thing is a serious issue, it is biting everybody. It’s going from one home to another. If you think you are safe, you are not safe. Just before I left the rehab centre a boy was brought in having been found on the street. He was delirious and soon became unconscious. Doctors struggled to find a vein to revive him with a drip. Three days later this boy was dead and Sani couldn’t rule out cough syrup abuse, although we’ll never know for sure. What is sure, Sani later told us, this is what cough syrup can do. As I left this place I understood why some people say cough syrup is killing a generation. My worst nightmare is to imagine my brother in a place like this. Further south in Ilorin, our investigation took a new turn when we set our sights on Bioraj – the company whose boxes of Biolin syrup were stacked in the NDLEA’s store in Kano. Sources had told us the factory was leaking huge amounts of syrup. Adejuwon placed a call to a Bioraj sales representative and told him we wanted to buy cough syrup without papers. He immediately set up a meeting. So, on Sunday morning I went to the factory as agreed and it turned out that I was not only meeting the Sales Rep. He had also set up a meeting with the Store Manager of Bioraj. Adejuwon met the Sales Representative, Al Monsuru, first. He came out of the factory and greeted him in front of the gates. How are you my brother? How is everything?
I hope you are well? How’s work? What was so crazy about the Bioraj filming was we were invited into the premises of the company to buy, purchase and take away cough syrup. – Oh, the Store Manager. We didn’t have to sneak into this company, we were literally welcomed into the company to come and buy cough syrup without papers. If you want a hundred cartons, we can give it. You can get it.
You get it. Do you know what we’re saying? Biolin with codeine. Ah! This is factory now. This is factory, it’s not… This is not a store. This is the factory. You understand? Even if you need 500 cartons, we can do it. We can get it now. I thought I was going to impress them by saying well I wanted to buy like 5 cartons to start, test the market. So, when I said 5 cartons, the Store Manager looked at me and smiled. And said well that he could understand that I wanted to start small. Because otherwise if I wanted a 1,000 cartons of Biolin they could give it to me If you need, you call me now, within three days we will produce it for you. If you need large quantities, for instance now in Igbo land, they usually buy up to 1000 cartons. Are you joking? In the East? I’m telling you the facts. That literally blew me off my feet. So, one individual each takes a shipment, a delivery of – how many bottles is that? About 60,000 bottles of cough syrup with codeine off Bioraj factory! In one deal. Just one single deal. And you know what, they also told me that these individuals exhaust this product in about a month. And they are back for another delivery. Since you’re selling in retail, you can buy in instalments of 20, 10, 20, 10, etc. Because if you buy a big quantity, like hundred cartons, where will you put it? It’s not something you can hoard in the house. Especially codeine, there’s too much attention on it. They’ve abused it too much. So they get disturbed a lot. But this our area doesn’t have any problems. It’s worse in the North. How is it the pharmaceutical companies
can have individuals in there that let out this huge amount of cough syrup
straight into the black market it’s it’s It’s quite hard to be able to understand how
this leaves the companies and no one is vetting no one is checking=. And then it was time for us to pay for the syrup. Forty-three right? 43,200 Naira. This that you want to do now, where there are lots of school kids, as soon as they get a taste for it, they’ll keep pestering you for more. o much so that you won’t let it finish before you buy new ones. So do you issue like an invoice or a receipt? We don’t do a receipt, unless you want to buy other products. If you want to buy other products, this is the receipt, we can write it. But for codeine – no. Even if someone wants to buy 1000 cartons, we won’t give them a receipt. How many people are talking about it?
What is government doing? Has anybody been convicted? I mean these drugs are not coming from the moon. They’re not coming from under the sea. They are manufactured somewhere, they are transported from one place to the other. Are we saying we don’t want to know? Come on. They brought out a carton of 60 bottles of syrup for us, and took off the label to cover their crime. Take the label off. Take off the label. Mr Ibeji, thank you very much. Nice to meet you. In a Bioraj statement both Baba Ibeji and Mr Al Monsuru deny selling Biolin illegally. The company told us Mr Al Monsuru actually left them in 2016. Bioraj chairman, Bioku Rahamon, said the company only sells codeine cough syrup legitimately and he personally guards sales of Biolin. So they make this much money, selling addictive cough syrup with codeine to people. And you know the irony of it? Their motto says your health is our concern. Really rather very sadly ironic. Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has publically expressed his concern over my country’s cough syrup epidemic. A special government committee was set up last October to address it. But why has nobody asked the hard questions – are companies that make cough syrup responsible for our codeine addicts? And are government regulators monitoring these companies properly? What are they monitoring, what are they following? I don’t know there’s just too many unanswered questions, why people don’t do their own jobs. There’s just too many unanswered questions It’s so sad, every time I talk about it I really get angry, like I really get angry on the verge of crying. We destroyed all the Biolin we bought –
every drop of it went down the drain. It’s so thick. Ah, this is disgusting … I think we’ve done the job we are supposed to do as journalists. If one person can be saved from getting deeper into a habit or starting a codeine habit, yeah, then our job is done. Yeah. you

Author:

100 thoughts on “Sweet sweet codeine: Nigeria’s cough syrup crisis – BBC Africa Eye documentary”

  • BBC News Africa says:

    Please make sure you have subtitles/CC turned on in the video settings, they will provide translations or clarity where needed. Thanks for watching!

  • At Emzor, we believe that our people are our most important asset.

    Our leaders pursue the Emzor mission and live by its values on a daily basis. We offer a harmonious working environment, with an emphasis on defining a clear growth path. To achieve this, we provide job-based training, to help our people grow competent and confident in their career.

    Emzor is an equal opportunity employer and a safe place to work.~~~~ https://www.emzorpharma.com/

  • From a very humble beginning as a retail chemist’s shop in January 1977 to one of Nigeria’s most respected, indigenous multi-billion naira pharmaceutical companies today, we have come a long way.

    From the modest beginning with four products in 1987, we now manufacture over 120 products across analgesic, anti-malaria, vitamin / haematinics / multivitamin supplement, anti-helmintic, antibiotics and therapeutic categories.

    We are committed to manufacturing world-class pharmaceutical and healthcare products that exceed the expectations of our stakeholders at all times. Take a first look at our new facility at Sagamu, Ogun state~~~
    Emzor has been providing Wellness for all to Nigerian’s for over 35 years, and have over 120 products.

    Emzor is the official Analgesic sponsor of the NFF and the Super Eagles with products like Paracetemol, Para 1000, Emcap, and Emprofen.
    Check out Enzor Pharma @ 9:32 into this video! ~~~

  • On Tuesday, 8 May 2018, Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) announced that it has shut down Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries and two other pharmaceutical companies over their involvement in the codeine syrup crisis. NAFDAC revealed in a statement that the shutdown was due to the companies’ inability to provide required documents on their use of codeine during inspection of the facilities.

    “Due to insufficient evidence gathered and apparent resistance to provide needed documents during our inspection on May 2, 2018, at the respective companies in Ilorin and Lagos, respectively, it has become necessary to shut down all the product lines of the three companies – Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Limited, plots 3 & 8, Adewole Industrial Estate, Lubcon Avenue, Ilorin, Kwara State; Bioraj Pharmaceutical Limited, 405 Kaima Road, Ilorin, Kwara State and Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ind. Ltd., Ajao Estate, Lagos. This is to allow for a full and comprehensive investigation. The three companies, therefore, remain closed,” the Director-General of the Agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said in the statement.

    This shut down follows the government’s ban on the use and issuance of permits for the importation of codeine cough syrup to curtail its gross abuse in the country. The Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, stated that codeine-containing cough syrups should be replaced with less-addictive-ingredient-containing cough syrup, dextromethorphan. Furthermore, the government directed NAFDAC to fully regulate and control the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of drugs, including inspection at points of entry of drugs, drug products and food for compliance with the new directive. The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) also issued a directive to “continue enforcement activities on Pharmacies, Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendor’s Shops and outlets in Nigeria.”

    It is therefore baffling that the first move NAFDAC made in response to this action is to shut down production units of the aforementioned pharmaceutical companies – especially Emzor, which has been around since 1984. Emzor has operated in Nigeria without being involved in any scandal and they have proven to be, arguably, one of the most reliable drug companies in the country through their consistent provision of drugs for everyday Nigerians. A lot of Nigerians depend on the drugs Emzor produces over other brands because their products marry quality and affordability.

    It should be noted that the Nigerian government waited quite long before deciding to put a ban on codeine, considering this drug has been abused by Nigerian youths as far back as 2005. So many have died from the abuse of codeine and other drugs, and just yesterday 7 May, a boy had a car accident and died in Delta state – located in the South South region of the country – due to drug overdose. That government agencies waited for the crisis to become a sensational news item before taking any action is a cause for worry. For years, many have called for the country’s festering drug problem to be addressed, but the Nigerian government has largely ignored it — beyond a half-hearted intervention at the legislature.

    Shutting down the production line in these companies a week after a ban was issued by the government shouldn’t have been NAFDAC’s first move. Why didn’t they focus on recalling products that are already in the market and shut down open market drug stores across the country? In many parts of Nigeria, there are people who own drug stores simply because they have completed a few years of apprenticeship from their masters who also learnt the trade through the same process. Why isn’t the government starting their oversight and regulatory duties from this obvious albeit more demanding part of the problem?

    Emzor employs over 300 direct workers and over 10,000 indirect workers. The government clearly didn’t think about what the impact of this on the job created here and what it does to the employment numbers. If care is not taken, these employees might end up losing their jobs because of this decision by the government. Nigerian government, via NAFDAC, has gone, as always, for the low-hanging fruit without analyzing the impact of the decision. The greater problem, however, is that there’s probably nothing anyone can do about it.

  • IS SHUTTING DOWN PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES THE RIGHT MOVE IN ADDRESSING NIGERIA’S CODEINE CRISIS? ~~~~~ https://thenerveafrica.com/18161/shutting-down-emzor-production-line-over-codeine-crisis-is-really-not-the-best-move/

  • 7 days after airing … May. 8 2018, 4:22 pm .. Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) announced that it has shut down Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries and two other pharmaceutical companies over their involvement in the codeine syrup crisis.

  • Humanforfreedom 95 says:

    Codeine is 1/30th the strength of morphine and is 1/100th the strength of heroin (diamorphine). No idea how it could mess people up so bad. I been on heroin which I’m now clean of but am now on methadone which are both way stronger since I was 19 and never been this bad. There’s more to this story. Codeine alone doesn’t do this. There’s obviously mental health and alcohol problems also.

  • Humanforfreedom 95 says:

    Poured all them opiates down the sink? LOL their are no more rats alive in that sewer they all overdosed

  • Damn tht shid crazy im born nd raised FRM HOUSTON TEXAS and thy have been pouring up since the 90s and before crazy thy sipn drank all the way in Africa

  • Tamra Alexander says:

    Do they NOT have to have a prescription I’m mean this look like it’s sold over the counter the cough syrup in the US is by prescription…..now I’m not saying that people don’t sell it but you can’t just go to WALGREENS OR CVS and ask the pharmacist to give you some syrup….when she was pouring out that cough syrup uggggghhhh….that’s definitely not the kind that’s in the US …and again IM NOT SAYING THAT PEOPLE DON’T SELL IT HERE OR EVEN GET ADDICTED TO IT HERE BECAUSE THEY DO .

  • Amenze Aigbekaen says:

    bbc be careful becuase of when you grow and grow people will try to kill you, so make sure you dont get too known or else….

  • Easy way to kill off the kids now like they have not been doing it Africa is a beautiful place. people of power is destroying the people and the land the read your Bible .

  • Jackyblue67 Same says:

    No difference than america with our opiode addiction & just like her in america it's the real drug pushers to blame for it all not the suffering people it's the doctors that have caused it all .

  • Natasha Chiware says:

    God why is this happening this shouldn't be happening! God bless my people hope you get the help you need! I wish you become a better country and get your act together! Be billionaires or something please amen.

  • Jack Vosmerkin says:

    Thanks for the documentary! Now all Texas rappers know where they’ll be spending their next vacation, lol.

  • Jack Vosmerkin says:

    The meeting with the pharmaceutical dealer seemed very fishy! How could he be filmed from like 4 different cameras? When he only had one on him? Fake?

  • I don't know…half of this….pain is inflicted by the people themselves. Putting addicts IN CHAINS!?…NO WONDER they lose their minds.
    Do you even know how DEVASTATING a cold withdrawal from these substances is?
    you could ravage their soul directly and you wouldn't get the same degeneration of their state of mind as with the cold withdrawal you force on these people.

  • Suk Milley Tolfrend says:

    A strong woman who tirelessly fights for justice like her father. What a beautiful woman. I will always believe in humanity because of people like her.

  • Seun Ogunseye says:

    Please I need a huge favour from all you who have watched the Sweet Sweet Codeine documentary. Pls click on the link below to fill this questionnaire on the documentary. Pls it’s for my final year project. Thank you

    https://forms.gle/5ZVmo25Td4orMWSh6

  • Seun Ogunseye says:

    Click on the link to fill a questionnaire on the Sweet Sweet codeine documentary: https://forms.gle/5ZVmo25Td4orMWSh6

  • It’s Private says:

    This journalist better watch out! Or she’s going to end up like her dad! She has some balls of steel if she still lives in Nigeria!!

  • Read it carefully
    Can change your life forever

    Codein is not life threatening drug is
    Absolutely right
    3 bottles 100 ml each will change your life
    But dose not more then 3 bottles in a day
    I am pharmacist

    It's my real personal experience
    Codein make my day wonderful
    Really best in comparison of alcohol or other raw opium
    I am using codein syrup from last 6 years
    Before I used to raw opium latex
    Current situation
    Now i use daily 4 bottels codeine syrup each 100 ml with 5mg in per 10ml
    With 2 mg clonazepam tab
    It's give me energy , relax , mental stability
    Motivation
    New ideas
    Creative ideas
    Love for nature
    No lust
    But I can fuck hard

    After codein and 2 cup.of coffee
    I.dont like fake people
    And fake life standard
    Unwanted talk

    Everyone should try code in
    At once
    May be it's change your life forever
    In india 30% population suffering from mental illness
    They don't to overcome from stress
    They start alcohol
    Which dangerous in compression of codein
    So drink everyday codein syrup
    Enjoy your life
    Be creative
    Help poor people
    Rescue injured birds and animal
    Do.. Social works
    And fuck off all negative and fake people

    Anybody wants
    Text me
    I will supply
    Its an Mankind work
    Thoes girlfriend or boyfriend fucked by other or any problems
    Mostly have this issue
    Lack of motivation etc
    Wana live again real life
    Go for it
    Its today's need
    And all honest pharmacist should understand our feeling
    Offer discount to regular customers
    Otherwise definitely you will go to hell
    So pharmacists start supply as soon as possible without prescription
    And earn same blessing
    It's today's need

  • Mostly grown men and women in this video addicted to a cough syrup? Where is the personal responsibility? You cannot convince me that they do not understand its bad!

  • So how to we know the people doing the drug bust aren’t the same people making a profit selling it I mean pretty smart to sell it then go do a huge raid get product back and resell it rinse repeat rinse repeat

  • In the early 70s in Vancouver BC (Canada) cough syrup was the RAGE. Obviously the suppliers were the doctors, but even back then the govt had a hold on the diff drugs which addicts and recreational users were using …. wasn’t that easy to get but it was def “the drug” of the day.

    Due to the abuse and drug addiction nowadays the govt has gone so far as to limit the strength of drugs a person is allowed to use on a daily basis …. it has literally made the crime rate go up as it was made mandatory for ALL people. Even people w/chronic pain, cancer, broken bones….u name it, U R just thrown under the bus and left in your misery…..the govt has created the worst “cluster fuck” fr doing this….
    Addicts r now buying anything that is avail, chronic pain patients r resorting to buying fr the streets not caring what it is…grrr.

    However the situation in this vid is just downright horrific. Chains on people’s legs….etc….
    Addiction is a terrible disease…just so widespread….what is the answer ????

    I know people who have been upstanding productive citizens who have been in chronic pain for yrs but was managing it thru prescription drugs along w/other methods to reduce the pain. Since the crack down about 3 yrs ago.,some of these same people r now separated fr their families, homeless, living on the steers and doing anything they can to get the drugs they need in order to survive the extreme pain they R living w/24/7…

  • 0:46
    She needs to fire and sue her makeup artist IMMEDIATELY. Got her looking like BOZO THE CLOWN OR RONALD McDonald.

  • Very strange how ppl so poor can afford this addiction because SIPPING LEAN IS ACTUALLY RATHER EXPENSIVE compared to other MUCH EASIER ways of getting high like smoking crack or HUFFING CHEMICALS.

  • Started in the USA an now made its way to Africa so sad that’s an America propaganda pushed on the Africans this shit crazy sell to your Own kind an destroy the mind

  • I was a heroin addict from I was 15 to 29 years old. I NEVER ONCE gave heroin or speed or pills, drugs to anyone young or wasn't already addicted. I was offered money from adults who wanted to try and young people nagging to try. I couldn't have lived with that guilt of getting one person to love that shit that I knew what did to me.
    My best friend was younger than me, I stopped being with her, not to tempt her.
    I desperately needed money each day, but I m so glad I didn't. One man many years older than me lied and said he used. I chared with him and found out after he wasn't addicted. He used other drugs, and I think of that with guilt often. I wouldn't have, had he not lied.
    No one can understand what hell they get themselves into. It's no game, not fun, just a race to feel not in pain and functional. First week or absolute first time, 6 months or so, It seems exiting. But when you get sick without, it's not exiting or fun anymore.
    Adult clean people that sells drugs… How can they??? It pisses me off! I didn't, but I don't blame addicts that sells to other addicts that IS addicted and not young. That's VERY different in my eyes, but clean people! That's EVIL!
    I had trouble often buying heroin when I was a teenager. Looked young for my age and wasn't very mature and very naive. I knew it was dangerous because of overdose, but I as most beginners was very sure I could easily quit. I thought it took one night to quit, because of a film I saw 🤕😧! And I couldn't imagine it would feel so painful and for so long. Also didn't think my thoughts would change and the intense cravings when clean. Had someone explained to me first… My brain wouldn't even slightly begin to understand.
    I also started with coff sirup. Cosylan and Naf strong cof syrup. Both that, speed and heroin, I used before I was drunk the first time. I never liked alcohol much.
    Drugs ruined so much of who I could have became. Already at 19, I went into coma, needed transplant ( liver) but couldn't because of the addiction. Woke up so reduced. Survived to doctors shock, but I never got back to normal. Used to be the most athletic and fast, in our school ( exept two boys) , could climb every rope, tree, jump 145 and took my health and that for granted, unfortunately. After coma, I couldn't jump up the carpet, even, hardly walk, out of breath and chronic fatigue. My short time memory was so bad, learning new things names.. was so much harder.
    My friends, so many died and my brother died two years ago because of OD, his kidneys got destroyed and lived on dialysis many years before his body suddenly died from his normal methadone dose, he legally got.
    Let doctors give addicts medical help, then scumbags can't get rich out of others suffering. Give it in right doses and not to the young people. Rather give heroin than methadone. Methadone is crazy harder to stop using. Heroin is hard but it's possible. Methadone, only few have pain tolerance to quit, after years. I use it legally. It saved my life after many tries with rehab, but I am 100% sure, had I gotten heroin instead of methadone, I would have after a few years back to society and time to not stress all day, I know I would have been able to build up the strength to quit. I m sooo ready to quit methadone, but after many tries, after years, it's impossible. Mostly because of the long time it takes with withdrawals, compared to heroin and how much more stronger it is.
    I just warn people not to flirt with addictive drugs. It will only mess up your life, even if I never asked my family for money, I hurt them. My mom is the best person I know, I remember thinking I would try, but not let it go so far that she would notice or know. How stupid is it possible to be!! Her reputation as a mom… I and my brother ruined it. She was not to blame. She knew nothing about drugs and we were not noticeable high when we came home. It's not like alcohol, that's hard to hide, but if not stoned, it's easy to hide for a mom, even for those who works at detox senters or rehabs, they think they are good at noticing, but so many times others or I used if anyone offered, and they didn't notice most of the times I or someone used. We was there because we wanted to, but a few times it actually made me stay instead, because it gave a break from the pain, enough to keep staying instead of leaving and failing. The last times, years ago now, tho, I had a chance, but left instead when to hard. Because if discovered, it is unfair to others there, who can leave because they get tempted too. Most addicts just do if they have a chance, hope not to get caught, the first times at detox. But after a few times, understand how not ok it is, and rather leave in case it's noticed and others will leave.. It's a mature thing. I write to much, but do in hope of explaining some things.
    Very sad to see this video and also other places in the world.
    With so many poor people and so much corruption and addicts… And so tough withdrawals… Unless the government gives authorities access to give it out free or cheap, the market and money hungry sharks will always " win " even when they lose. Make it un attractive for new young people. Nothing exiting with " loosers " going to a clinic to get their medicine.
    What is, is the feeling of belonging with the cool ones out at parties and on the streets.
    Not an old junkie /sirup dude going to a clinic, like a kinder garden.. And then those sharks wouldn't have their clients and the prices would fall so much, it wouldn't be wort the risk or time or even have a status, anymore. Look at Portugal. How they have had so success reducing the marked and helping the addicts medically and even how they on their own chooses to quit mostly within five years, when they get to take part in the medical substances and can be honest, because they aren't punished for relapsing. They are taken seriously and have a doctor to talk to without any lying needed.
    I understand it's harder in countries without resources, but there is a lot to learn, anyways.
    Win win, not give up, but right new thinking!

  • Isn't this the country that tries to fuck the world over using the phone?, Sounds like a normal day in a toilet country to me.

  • I'm very sorry to kill this BS !!! I got hooked on opioids by using tablets from america, Tyledol i think and vycodin….. if you do a COLD WATER EXTRACTION then you seperate the HARMFULL for the organs substances, the paracetamol would be toooooo much dosaged and create damage. I used only 8 or 10 tablets, so the codeine or hydrocodeine would seperate and put itself on the bottom, its an easy 'cooking'. So i get 40mg codeine or hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is much stronger and a better high. Syrop only delivers low dosages of codeine, but its the COCKTAIL, the MIXTURE with other substances that makes it dangerous. If it would be codeine PURE, they would get higher, maybe faster OD, but at least they know what they do… now all i see a bunch of idiots drinking from coughsyrop that contains multiple substances !!!!!
    Its because they chase the codeiene, that they cant find enough in the mixture, that they use toooo much of those other more harmfull substances !!!!!
    just google CWE.

  • Codeine never made me crazy and i never thought it is addictive. I just use it for cough because it cures cough really fast. This drug will eventually be banned because these addict idiots.

  • JohnandEve Foster says:

    i do not get it, this can not be the same stuff i was prescribed when i was 17 after a total reconstruction surgery of my knee? that stuff didnt take away any pain nor did it make me feel like i was drugged…. i know for a fact it was codeine.. i even took way more than i should have because the pain was so bad … nope can't be the same stuff… but i did know a women and her man who bought over the counter cough syrup EVERYDAY and drank the whole bottle.. i am sure they would like to get a hold of this stuff

    seriously, does this county have methadone? would that help those addicted to this? i am sure it is the withdrawals that make them keep doing it…

  • JohnandEve Foster says:

    you are pouring the evidence down the drain.. a corrupt attorney could argue that it was fake… but that aside… why didnt the police arrest them?

  • JohnandEve Foster says:

    the people in the government are getting paid off by the pharmaceutical companies , they are paying off everyone, so no one will do anything about it..

  • God bless her real good. But this is too risky to her life. I will rather she did not show her face. Men are beasts by nature.

  • Sheila Mchgee says:

    There is codeine addiction epidemic here in the uk right now!

    Start an Narcotic Anonymous Group it works against addiction!

  • Chantal Vonschaeffer says:

    Im so glad that somebody finally did an expose on this silent killer "codeine"…ive seen first hand how it alters some1 for the worst,Breaks up relationships and homez.."Bless urla hearts for reporting on this..url
    are very Brave souls"…

  • Why are people filming themselves getting high? And do they have codeine burning ceremonies? Addicts aren't particularly concerned with health risks.

  • Seen it all on here, Glue sniffing, Jet fuel sniffing, Hooch that can blind you and now this, damn, c'mon people get productive, clean your communities up, corruption is at the highest levels, the people are the power do not forget that, but with power comes corruption, i hope Africa can be cleaned up as it's people for the majority are decent honest folk.

  • Ooh my Africa where did we go wrong, may the Almighty God remove this wrath from us.
    We killing our selves😥😥😥

  • Prince Mothiba says:

    Its sad what is happening, i would also love to see you doing a documentary here in south Africa exposing Nigerians who are selling drugs to our brothers and sisters. Please

  • N.W.A No bullshit says:

    This is the real problem of Africa…Nigerian Government WAKE your ass up and do something and that Company pay TAX…The youths are the feature Leader tomorrow

  • Miguel Castaño says:

    Its a drug created for sell it with no problem everywhere, even if is forbidden. Its designed for go insane and kill poor people.
    (Very good music!)

  • Miguel Castaño says:

    The consume and drugs abuse is a fact. Are a lot of natural "not too bad drugs" free that any one can take to get off their pain of their bodies and souls. Not more hypocresy. People need drugs because the situation is too hard and are a lot of peoblems, abd drugs feed this cercle. The soultion is not the drug, obsviously, but plants can help with education and programs for illness people addicted, liver problems, anxiety, etc. But pharmaceutycall and goverment never will let you do it. The best tool is information. Are better natural alternatives. This syrup is a death sentence for the nation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *