A Lagos high court has reiterated its earlier ruling that taking Fanta and Sprite soft drinks with Vitamin C is poisonous and a warning must be stamped on the bottled by the manufacturing company.
The court, on Wednesday, therefore ordered the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to mandate the Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC, manufacturers of the two soft drinks, to warn prospective customers of the implication in mixing the two.
The court dismissed an application filed by the Nigeria Bottling Company Plc seeking an order of the court staying execution of the order.
However, the court ordered conditional stay of execution of the N2 million cost awarded against NAFDAC, but ordered the agency to pay the money into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court, pending the determination of the appeal filed by NAFDAC.
The ruling delivered by Justice Adedayo Oyebanji was sequel to an application filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, T.A. Busari, SAN, on behalf of NBC urging the court to stay the execution of the judgment of the court.
Mr Busari said the court should stay the execution of the order on the ground that the order made by the court will adversely affect the operations of the company, if the execution of same is not stayed pending the outcome of the appeal filed by the company.
In a related development Professor Taiwo Osipitan SAN, also filed an application for stay of execution of the judgment of the court on behalf NAFDAC.
He contended that NAFDAC has appealed against the judgment of the court at the Court of Appeal.
In opposition, Barrister Abiodun Onidare, who is the counsel to the claimants, Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holding, argued that the paramount interest of the public was what mattered most and not the business policy and reputation of the Nigeria Bottling Company.
Mr Onidare further argued that the application for stay must fail because the defendant has failed to put before the court, materials which will necessitate the grant of same .
In her ruling justice Oyebanji said: “It seems to the court evidence that in the event of a refusal of the application for stay of execution, if the business interest of the Nigeria Bottling company is consequently adversely affected, a return to status quo can be achieved if Nigeria Bottling Company’s appeal at the Court of Appeal succeeds.
“It is beyond argument that if the application for stay is granted and human health is consequently adversely affected, it is most unlikely that there can indeed be a return to status quo.
”It is imperative to add the resultant effect of the order sought to be stayed is the preservation of human life, the business interest of Nigeria Bottling Company cannot in my respected view take precedent over public health.
“The importance of public health is clearly demonstrated and underscored by the constitutional provision in section 45 thereof.
”For the reasons herein adumbrated, it seems to me manifest that Nigeria Bottling Company has failed to disclose any special circumstances which would warrant the grant of this application.
“Accordingly, Nigeria bottling company‘s application for stay of execution fails and it is hereby dismissed.
”Upon a consideration of the fact that the kernel of the complaint of NAFDAC as contained in its notice of appeal is premised on an alleged lack of jurisdiction of the court to adjudicate upon this case in relation to NAFDAC, the court has come to the conclusion that in the circumstances of this case it is expedient to grant a conditional stay.
”Accordingly, a conditional stay of execution of the judgment is hereby granted in relation to the N2 million cost awarded in favour of the claimants against NAFDAC.
“The N2 million cost shall be paid into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the high court of Lagos state pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the learned silk to NAFDAC.”