Law & Policy, Music Business

Eric Arubayi: West African Idol contestant dead at 33 after ingesting expired malaria drugs


Eric Arubayi, a 2007 West African Idol contestant and gospel singer, has died at only 33years of age. In an interview with The Vanguard News Paper, Derrick Arubayi, his brother, explained the artist died at a hospital in Delta State after he allegedly ingested expired drugs that meant to treat his malaria and typhoid fever.

“He had malaria and typhoid, which was untreated. It later became worse after he took a medication that had expired and this triggered his liver ailment and afterward, every other thing just followed at a fast pace before his death,” said Derrick Arubayi. “The only thing that we had to say is that he lived for Christ. We just want the world to know that the name Eric Odafe Arubayi was for a reason beyond the West Africa Idol show. For that reason, God would make manifest even beyond his glorious ascension.” 

In  2001 The Journal of Health & Population in Developing Countries published a report titled ‘Drug Regulation and Control in Nigeria: The Challenge of Counterfeit Drugs,’ that outlined the problem of counterfeiting drugs in Nigeria. Sadly, nothing seems to have changed since that report.

Background To The Study 

In Nigeria today, there is an influx into the market of fake machine parts, fake motor spare parts, fake chemicals, fake and adulterated food items, amongst many others. It may appear that almost every existing product has a fake counterpart. The era 1985-2000 in Nigeria has heralded the regime of faking and quackery, counterfeit drugs, quack doctors, illegal chemist shops and hospitals. Drugs are no exception (Ohuabunwa, 2002). The menace of fake drugs became prevalent in the last decade and the present situation is alarming in the West African sub-region, including Nigeria. Empirical observations have shown that there may be more fake than genuine drugs in circulation (Osibo, 1998). The counterfeiting practices in developing communities include:

(i) Counterfeiting when demand for an expensive product is high.

(ii) Tampering with original packages with drugs packed in large pack sizes.

(iii) Swapping of labels of two products manufactured by the same company.

(iv) Exploiting similarity in appearance between the original preparation and the counterfeit.

(v) Labeling low price products with a high price product label.

(vi) Passing off a company’s product for another.

A disturbing aspect of the counterfeit drug menace is that the effects of consuming such drugs go unnoticed most of the times except in such cases where it results in mass deaths. There are generally no reliable data on the mortality or morbidity arising from the consumption of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria. In 1947, 14 children were reported dead after being administered chloroquine phosphate injections and in 1990, 109 children died after being administered fake paracetamol (Aluko, 1994).”

Interesting, as noted, the laws are in the books. The challenge, however, is enforcement. Eric Arubayi is survived by his wife Chinonso Arubayi and their two-year-old son. May his soul rest in peace and may his family be comforted in this very difficult time.

-Ms. Uduak

CNBC report on Fake drug use in Nigeria

UPDATE 2/14/2017: Official statement from his family

“Today we celebrate the life and Glorious Ascension of our father, husband, brother, son and friend, Eric Arubayi, who went to be with the Lord on Saturday, 11th February 2017.

We are truly honoured that God chose us as the channel through which He released such a wonderful, helping and inspiring gift to the world. We are touched by messages of love we have received from all friends and well wishers of the family.

We are inspired by His life and have become testaments of His Impact around the world. Till we meet to part no more, rest in the bosom of the Lord. We all Love you Eric, but God loves you more.

The commemoration of Eric’s glorious ascension will be communicated soonest.

Dereck Osadere Arubayi (Ph.D)”

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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