The cough syrup epidemic affects Nigerians from all social groups
The cough syrup epidemic affects Nigerians from all social groups

BBC Launches Africa Eye - a new TV investigations strand for Africa

Africa Eye – a new documentary strand from the BBC launches today with an in-depth investigation into the plague of addiction to cough mixture across Nigeria.

The new strand will deliver up to 20 original and high-impact investigations from across Africa every year.


Nisha Kapur, Commissioning Editor for TV said: “Africa Eye will promote the culture of investigative journalism across Africa and strengthen the skills of African investigative journalists. All of the programmes will be based on in-depth reporting that holds power to account. They will tackle topics that are of intense interest and concern to audiences in Africa. These reports will be produced in a fresh and contemporary style that resonates with young audiences."

The new strand is part of the BBC’s commitment to invest in original content for Africa in English, French, Swahili and Hausa languages as part of the expansion of the BBC World Service. Africa Eye will create a network of trained investigative journalists across the continent - within BBC Africa, among the BBC’s partner organizations on the continent. They will also work with independent journalists. Each episode will be 30 minutes to an hour long.

The first - a co-production between Africa Eye and BBC Pidgin - will look at the cough syrup industry and how Codeine is causing a plague of addiction across Nigeria - hooking millions of young people.

In an exclusive undercover investigation, Africa Eye, will reveal senior figures in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry who are moving their legally produced products via the back door of their factories and into the hands of drug dealers who sell the dangerously addictive, sweet tasting opioid for the price of a bottle of cola.

With access to Nigeria's crack anti-drug squads, BBC Pidgin journalist Ruona Meyer, whose brother has struggled with cough syrup addiction, is on a journey to unravel the secrets of the syrup plague....and to expose the criminals behind it.

Codeine cough syrup can now be bought in the heaving nightclubs of Lagos and on the ancient backstreets of Kano. Three million bottles are drunk every day in Nigeria's north alone, according to a recent Nigerian government report.

Adejuwon Soyinka, Editor of the BBC Pidgin who went undercover said, “it’s shocking what we found and how much of an epidemic cough syrup abuse has become in Nigeria. Equally shocking is the sheer size of criminal network involved in the illicit trade.”

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