The Rivers State Government has announced a ban on the consumption of local gin (popularly called Ogogoro or Kai-kai) following the death of about 32 persons in parts of the state. About 15 persons were said to have died at Woji town in Port Harcourt metropolis while another 17 persons were said to have died in Bonny Island. The deaths in Woji were attributed to the consumption of a dog meat delicacy and local gin containing a high dose of ethanol.

The ban was announced on Thursday by the Department of Disease Control in the state Ministry of Health which said the ban had become necessary to stop more people from consuming the toxic substance. The Director of Disease Control in state Ministry of Health, Dr. Roland Obed-Whyte, however expressed concern over the difficulty in getting samples of the particular local gin for thorough clinical analysis because aggrieved youths of Woji had set ablaze the local pub of FridayDickson, aka Etiaba, where the suspected toxic gin was bought and consumed erasing remaining samples of the gin. Dickson, he confirmed, was also already in the custody of the police.

Obed-Whyte said however that health officials from the ministry had been dispatched to Woji and Bonny for house-to-house enlightenment on the dangers of consumption of the highly toxic local gin. He also said preliminary findings revealed that some of symptoms found in that affected victims included vomiting and blindness. He also expressed concern that the remains of most the victims had been buried without autopsy making medical examinations more difficult.

In a related development, a youth leader in Bonny Island, Simon Wilcox, yesterday said 17 persons had died in the island after the consumption of toxic local gin. “As I speak with you, 17 persons have been confirmed dead. We are going to the hospital to attend to those who are lying critically ill. We need the help of World Health Organisation (WHO), federal and state government agencies to assist people of Bonny kingdom,” he said.

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