Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Nigerians face baby poison charge

Map of Nigeria

Three people have appeared in a Nigerian court over their alleged role in the deaths of more than 80 children.

The infants died after they were administered with the teething pain mixture "My Pikin".

The trio faced a six-count charge at Lagos High Court over the sale and distribution of adulterated drugs.

The Nigerian-made syrup, found to contain engine coolant, was discovered last November when babies began dying of organ failure across the country.

The BBC's Fidelis Mbah in Lagos says it is being seen as an important test case for Nigeria's battle against counterfeit drugs.

Our correspondent says many were surprised to see only three suspects in court as 12 were arrested last month, but police say their inquiries are continuing.

He says 84 children are known to have died and many others were hospitalised, but some believe the actual number of infant fatalities caused by the contaminated syrup was much higher.

Shops have removed thousands of units of the paracetamol-based mixture off the shelves since the threat emerged.

The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac) shut down the Lagos-based manufacturer and the main supplier of the medicine last year.

Nafdac has also appealed to parents not to treat their children with any type of teething syrup until it can find all the remaining stocks.

The name My Pikin means my baby in Nigerian pidgin.

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