The BBC World Service (BBCWS) has launched a new TV documentary strand, with the first episode focusing on the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.
Africa Eye will promote investigative journalism across Africa, reporting on issues affecting countries across the continent.
Its programmes are available on BBC Africa, YouTube and BBC Pidgin, and form part of the BBC’s commitment to invest in original content for Africa in English, French, Swahili and Hausa as part of the expansion of BBCWS.
The first episode of Africa Eye, titled Sweet Sweet Codeine, focuses on Nigerians addicted to a form of cough syrup and how senior figures at some pharmaceutical companies allegedly aid the black market in its illegal distribution. This episode was coproduced by Africa Eye and BBC Pidgin.
Adejuwon Soyinka, editor of BBC Pidgin, who went undercover for the episode, 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 the criminal network involved in the illicit trade”
The episode reported that Emzor Pharmaceuticals had suspended the distribution of cough syrup containing codeine and dismissed one of its sales representatives after discovering that the employee was trading the opiate to the black market. The company is now carrying out an internal investigation and the Nigerian government has since suspended the sale of codeine-based cough syrup.
Speaking about the programme, Nisha Kapur, commissioning editor for TV at BBCWS, 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.”
Africa Eye will feature about 20 original, high-impact investigations across Africa every year. Each episode will 30 minutes to an hour long and will be aired on BBCWS platforms.