An Igbosere High Court in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned the suit filed by brewing giant, Guinness Nigeria Plc, against the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, till February 8, 2016 to enable both parties meet for amicable resolution of the N1 billion sanction.
Justice Wasiu Animahun adjourned the suit, following submissions of the parties through their lawyers that a meeting is ongoing to resolve the matter out of court.
NAFDAC had imposed a N1 billion fine on Guinness Nigeria Plc “as administrative charges for various clandestine violations of its rules, regulations and enactments over a long period of time”.
NAFDAC in a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Peter Ndegwa, through its Head, Investigation and Enforcement Unit, Kingsley Ejiofor, requested for the payment of N1 billion as administrative charges for infractions such as the destruction activities carried out by the company without authorisation and supervision of the agency.
The agency also accused Guinness of revalidating expired products without authorisation and supervision by NAFDAC, as well as failing to secure the gate of its warehouse as raw materials used in the production of beer and non-alcoholic beverages, which were alleged to be permanently opened to intrusion and exposure to the elements and rodents, “invariably affected the integrity of the raw materials”.
Guinness Nigeria Plc was also accused of maintaining poor documentation of records and not complying with conditions contained in the Certificate of Validation of the revalidated malt extract which required the storage of the items in cool and dry places and elimination of exposure to sunlight.
The brewing agent, not satisfied with the fine, approached the court asking it to restrain NAFDAC and the Attorney-General of the Federation from enforcing the sanction pending the determination of the suit.
When the suit came up on Tuesday for mention, Counsel to Guinness Plc, Mr. Olasupo Shasore, SAN, informed the court that representatives of the company and that of NAFDAC are meeting on the sanction, adding that he is hopeful the matter would be resolved.
Addressing the court, NAFDAC’s lawyer, Mr. O. M. Abutu, acknowledged that the parties met on Monday, December 21, but said he was not privy to what actually transpired at the meeting.
‘’I confirm that the applicant (Guinness) met with the agency yesterday, but I was not part of the meeting and I have not been briefed about its outcome.”
Abutu, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable the agency reply to the originating process filed by Guinness and for possible out of court settlement.
In his submission, Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. T Mokuolu, said he has no objection if the parties decide to resolve the issue out of court.
Guinness Plc had in its originating motion prayed the court for an order restraining NAFDAC and the AGF from imposing any sanction on it other than those recognised by law and the constitution.