Civil society urges judiciary to exercise fairness

LAGOS: THE Nigerian judiciary has been urged to adhere to the principles of adjudication in the suit between the Consumer Protection Council and Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited.

Speaking in Abuja, the co-ordinator of the Society for Social Development and Good Leadership, Ikenna Agu, stated that the judiciary had established its reputation as an impartial arbiter and will not be swayed by extra-judicial means in procuring judgments.

Agu was reacting to renowned lawyer, Femi Falana, who wrote a letter to the global chief executive officer of Coca Cola, in which he raised several issues allegedly unrelated to the case.

“Falana went on to pronounce Coca-Cola guilty even when he is fully aware that there is a subsisting case in court. Making such statements is tantamount to attempting to sway the judiciary and make the CPC’s case better than it is,” said Agu.

“Falana should allow the parties already in court to continue with the judicial process without seeking to unduly influence its outcome,” Agu added.

The CPC is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Coca-Cola and its bottler, the Nigerian Bottling Company, over a consumer complaint which borders on a manufacturing defect on the filling of two cans of Sprite.

The CPC thereafter slammed a fine of N100 million on both Coca-Cola and NBC, a matter which the beverage companies are contesting in court.

According to the CPC, N60 million is for investigating the two half-filled cans of Sprite and the balance N40 million as civil penalties. The consumer will be paid N50 000.

“Rather than hound companies operating in Nigeria, government agencies such as the CPC should strive to ensure that businesses meet their obligations while ensuring that the interest of the consumer is protected,” Agu said.

“This can be done without going overboard, as it is with CPC requiring Coca-Cola to pay N100 million for a manufacturing defect on filling of two cans of Sprite out of a massive production batch,” Agu added.