By Jill Okeke
In line with its mandate to ensure that customers are prioritised in the business value chain, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has dragged a Lagos-based surgeon, Dr Anuoluwapo Adepoju, to court over alleged evasion from investigation into a failed plastic surgery.
Nigerian consumers have been suffering the wanton abuse of their rights in every sector of the economy.
However CEO of FCCPC, Barrister Babatunde Irekera, has brought some reforms into the agency, such that the abuse of consumer rights and unhealthy competition are being checked.
To a large extent, the regulatory agency has restored some level of human dignity in the relationship between businesses and consumers.
It is in pursuit of this objective the Commission recently commenced the prosecution of Dr. Adepoju at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The defendant was charged alongside her clinic, known as MedContour Services Ltd, on a five count charge bordering on a refusal to honour an invitation for investigation.
She is standing trial before Justice Mohammed Liman.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) had in April, sealed the second defendant (MedContour), a plastic surgery hospital, over suspicions of illegal activities.
Also, in April, the FCCPC revealed on its official Twitter handle that it had commenced an investigation into a case of failed plastic surgery performed by the first defendant, Dr. Anuoluwapo of Med Contour.
In a five- count charge brought against the defendants on Friday, the prosecution alleged that without sufficient cause, the first defendant failed to appear before the FCCPC in compliance with the Commission’s summons dated April 15.
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The prosecution also alleged that without sufficient cause, the first defendant refused and failed to produce documents which she was required to produce in compliance with the Commission’s notice of investigation dated April 14.
It was further alleged that the defendant prevented and obstructed the commission from carrying out its investigation into the said issue.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 11(1)(a), 33(1)(a), 110, 113(1)(a) and 159(4) of the FCCPC Act, 2018.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to all counts.
After her plea, Defence counsel, Mrs. Maria Jonnes informed the court of a preliminary objection challenging the charge.
She had argued that the law setting up the FCCPC does not empower the court to entertain the case filed by the commission, adding that the defence had already filed a pending suit before a brother judge, Justice C. Aneke challenging the Act of the commission.
In response, the prosecutor who is Director General of the FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, argued that there was no legal basis for the preliminary objection of the defence.
According to him, the subject before the court is not on the issue of violation, and so, there is nothing in the preliminary objection that can stand.
He also submitted that the objection that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case is misinformed.
After listening to submission of parties, Justice Liman, upheld the submission of the prosecution, and held that the criminal jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is activated by the provisions of sections 251(f) of the Constitution.
The court held that sub section 1(f) of the section, includes organisations like the Consumer Protection Council as well as the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON)
The court consequently over ruled the preliminary objection of defence.
Justice Liman granted the defendant bail on self- recognisance, and adjourned the case until July 9 for trial.