The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday ordered Barewa Pharmaceutical Company to pay a fine of N1m for the sale of a contaminated baby teething mixture, My Pikin, which resulted in the death of a number of babies in the country.
In a lead judgment read by Justice E.C. Iyizoba, the Court of Appeal set aside the decision of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which on May 17, 2012 ordered the winding up of the company and the forfeiture of its assets.
Rather, the appellate court ordered Barewa Pharmaceutical Company to pay a fine of N1m for the offence.
The Court of Appeal however upheld the seven years imprisonment imposed on the company’s Production Manager, Adeyemo Abiodun, and its Quality Assurance Manager, Egbele Eromosele, by the lower court.
“The order for the winding up of the appellant is set aside, instead the appellant is sentenced to a fine of N1m,” Justice Iyizoba held.
The Federal High Court had in a judgment delivered in 2012 by Justice Okechukwu Okeke (retd.) convicted Barewa Pharmaceutical Company, Abiodun and Eromosele on two counts of conspiracy and sale of a harmful teething mixture pressed against them by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
The judge had then sentenced Abiodun and Eromosele to seven years imprisonment each and ordered the winding up of their company and the forfeiture of its assets.
But displeased with their conviction, prison sentence and the winding up and forfeiture orders, the company and its officers filed separate notices of appeal before the Court of Appeal, seeking to set Justice Okeke’s judgment aside.
However, in its judgment delivered in 2013, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Federal High Court on the conviction of Abiodun and Eromosele, but set aside the order for the winding up of Barewa Pharmaceutical Company.
Not pleased with the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abiodun, Eromosele and Barewa Pharmaceutical company subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court.
In a judgment delivered on March 18, 2016 by a seven-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and ordered a fresh hearing of the case at the Court of Appeal.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who prepared the lead judgments in the three appeals, which were read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, noted that what the Court of Appeal treated and delivered judgment on was an abandoned notice of appeal filed by the appellants.
The apex court thus ordered the appellate court to hear the appeals on the “valid notice/grounds of appeal” filed on July 3, 2013 by the appellants.
The judgment read on Tuesday by Justice Iyizoba was the outcome of the fresh hearing of the appellants’ cases by the Court of Appeal.
The appellate court however did not change its earlier decision as it held that the complaint of the appellants was without merit.
“Throughout the gamut of the trial, the appellants never denied that they were the manufacturers of the contaminated drug -” My Pikin” teething syrup.
“The drug in question is manufactured alone by the appellants. No other pharmaceutical company produced the drug. So, any of the product in Nigeria is manufactured by the appellants.
“There was no contradictory evidence as both the appellants and the respondent confirmed that the contaminated drug, was manufactured by the appellants,” Justice Iyizoba held.
The two Justices on the panel, Justice Y. Nimpar and Justice J.Y Tukur, who were not on seat on Tuesday but whose judgments were read by Justice Iyizoba, also concurred with the lead judgment.