By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Supreme Court has faulted the December 2013 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which upheld the conviction of the manufacturer of My Pikin baby teething mixture and two employees.
The manufacturer, Barewa Pharmaceutical Company, its Production Manager, Adeyemo Abiodun, and Quality Assurance Manager, Egbele Eromosele, were in 2008 charged with production of the dangerous syrup which purportedly resulted in some deaths.
Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on May 17, 2012, convicted the three and sentenced each to seven years for conspiracy to sell the dangerous drug.
He handed them another seven years for actually selling the syrup, but ordered that the sentences should run concurrently.
The judge, who retired a day after the judgment, ordered the company to be compulsorily wound up and its assets forfeited.
The charge was initiated by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The Court of Appeal, Lagos in its judgment in 2013 upheld the decision of the Federal High Court, but only set aside the aspect concerning the winding-up of the company.
In its unanimous judgments delivered yesterday in three appeals filed by the company, Abiodun and Eromosele, the apex court faulted the Court of Appeal, Lagos on the ground that it determined the convicts’ appeals on an abandoned notice and grounds of appeal.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who wrote the lead judgments in the three appeals, ordered that the appeals be remitted to the Court of Appeal, Lagos for it to hear the appeals on the “valid notice/grounds of appeal” filed on July 3, 2013.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour’s judgment was read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour noted that, of all the issues raised in the appeals, it was discovered that issue two was a threshold issue, to the effect that the Court of Appeal, Lagos division abandoned the operative notice of appeal and relied on the abandoned notice of appeal
He said the three appeals were determined by the apex court on that ground alone and that there was no need going into the substance of the appeals.
“In conclusion, it is hereby ordered that this appeals be remitted to the Court of Appeal for hearing de novo (afresh) on the valid notice of appeal filed on 3rd of July 2013.”
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who was part of the five-man panel said the court lacked the power to hear the appeal and determine it as requested by the appellants’ lawyers.