This Day (Lagos)

8 November 2012

Nigeria: My Pikin - Court Strikes Out MD's Name

A Federal High Court in Lagos Wednesday struck out the name of the Managing Director of Barewa Pharmaceutical Company Limited, Mr. Gbadegesin Okunlola, following reorts of his death.

Okunlola, who was aged 58, was charged for the production and distribution of adulterated drugs by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The trial judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke, averred that he took the decision, following the application filed by the deceased's counsel, Mr. Folabi Kuti, informing the court of the demise of the accused.

A death certificate from St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, was also attached, as confirmation of his death.

The prosecutor, Mr. Aminu Halilu, also informed the court of a "sworn declaration of the accused death, deposed to by one Judith Egbeadumah."

The deponent had stated that her principal, Mr. Osaro Eghobamien (SAN), was informed of the deceased death on October 27, by the deceased relatives.

She said the deceased had died as a result of the massive stroke he suffered on October 18, adding that the corpse was currently lying in a private mortuary preparatory to its interment.

The prosecutor, therefore, prayed the court to strike out the deceased's name from the charge in view of his demise.

He said: "We are convinced and satisfied that the first accused person is dead. In view of this, we can not continue with the case today. We therefore urge the court to strike out his name from the suit."

Consequently, Okeke struck out the deceased's name from the suit.

The prosecutor also sought for an adjournment to enable it work out with the defence counsel, who to stand in place of the deceased as representative of the company.

Halilu also sought for an adjournment to enable him amend the charge to reflect current development in the case.

But, Kuti, however, did not object to adjournment, but prayed the court to set definite trial date in the case.

He blamed the prosecution for the delay in the case, which commenced about three years ago.

Kuti stated that the remaining accused persons were in a haste to ensure prompt conclusion of the case to enable them prove their innocence.

Justice Okeke granted the prayer for adjournment and fixed further hearing for December 3.

The deceased, his company and two of its staff - Adeyemo Abiodun and Egbele Eromosele, were arraigned on March 8, 2009 on a six-count charge of alleged manufacturing and sale of an adulterated drug, 'My Pikin' teething mixture, which allegedly killed about 80 children in the country.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charge and were admitted to bail by the trial judge.

The prosecutor had said that the offences contravened Section 1 (a) of the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Miscellaneous provisions) Act No. 25 of 1999 and punishable under section 3 of the same Act.

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