In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division yesterday upheld the conviction of the managers of Barewa Pharmaceutical Company, makers of My Pikin teething mixture but set aside the decision, which ordered the winding up of their firm.
Justice Okechukwu Okeke (rtd) of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on May 17, 2012 slammed a nine-year jail term against company’s Production Manager, Adeyemo Abiodun, and its Quality Assurance Manager, Egbele Eromosele and ordered that the company be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The appellate court however, ordered the firm to pay a fine of N1m for the sale of the contaminated baby teething mixture, which reportedly resulted in the death of a number of children in the country.
In a lead judgment read by Justice Chinwe Iyizoba, the Court of Appeal rather upheld the seven years imprisonment imposed on them 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.
Justice Okeke had convicted Barewa Pharmaceutical Company, Abiodun and Eromosele on two counts of conspiracy and sale of a harmful teething mixture leveled against them by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
He therefore sentenced them to seven years imprisonment each and ordered the winding up of their company and forfeiture of its assets.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the company and its officers filed separate notices of appeal before the Court of Appeal, seeking to set aside Justice Okeke’s judgment.
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 therefore ordered the appellate court to hear the appeals on the “valid notice/grounds of appeal” filed on July 3, 2013 by the appellants.
Justice Iyizoba’s judgment yesterday was the outcome of the fresh hearing of the appellants’ cases by the Court of Appeal.