By Dipo Olowookere
Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Igbosere High Court has ordered the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to henceforth mandate the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Plc to include on all bottles of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks manufactured by the company a written warning that the content of the said soft drinks cannot be taken with Vitamin C as same becomes poisonous.
Justice Oyebanji also declared that NAFDAC has failed the citizens of this great nation by its certification as satisfactory for human consumption, products in which in the United Kingdom failed sample test for human consumption and which become poisonous in the presence of Ascorbic Acid ordinarily known as Vitamin C, which can be freely taken by the unsuspecting public with the Fanta and Sprite.
The judgment of the court was sequel to a suit filed by a Lagos businessman, Dr Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, against NBC and NAFDAC.
Mr Adebo also urged the court to declare that the firm was negligent and breached the duty of care owed to their valued customers and consumers in the production of contaminated soft drinks with excessive “benzoic acid and sunset” addictive.
He also prayed the court to direct NAFDAC to conduct and carry out routine laboratory tests of all the soft drinks and allied products of the company to ensure and guarantee the safety of the consumable products produced from the factory.
In an amended statement of claim filed before the court by counsel to the claimant, Mr Abiodun Onidare, it was alleged that sometimes in March 2007, Fijabi Adebo’s company purchased from the NBC large quantities of Coca-cola, Fanta orange, Sprite, Fanta Lemon, Fanta Pineapple and soda water for export to the United Kingdom for retail purposes and supply to their customers in United Kingdom (UK).
When the consignment of the soft drinks arrived in the UK, fundamental health related matters were raised on the contents and composition of the Fanta and Sprite products by the United Kingdom Health Authorities, specifically the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council’s Trading Standard Department of Environment and Economy Directorate.
The findings were also corroborated by the Coca-cola European Union and the products were found to have excessive levels of “Sunset Yellow and Benzoic Acid “which are unsafe for human consumption.
And due to the irregularities and harmful content of the soft drinks, which can cause cancer to the consumers, the claimants could not sell the products resulting in appreciable losses, as they were certified unsuitable for consumption and were seized and destroyed by the UK health authorities.
The claimants alleged further that NAFDAC failed to carry out necessary tests to determine if the soft drinks were safe for human consumption.
However, in its amended statement of defence filed before the court by Mr T. O. Busari, the NBC admitted supplying the products but contended that the products manufactured by the company were meant for local distribution and consumption.
It denied that it was negligent in the manufacturing of its products as alleged. It said that stringent quality control procedures were adopted in its production process to ensure that its products are safe for consumption of the final user.
In her judgment, Justice Oyebanji said: “It is imperative to state that the knowledge of the NBC that the products were not to be exported is immaterial to its being fit for human consumption.
“The court is in absolute agreement with the learned counsel for the claimants that soft drinks manufactured by the NBC ought to be fit for human consumption irrespective of colour or creed.
“In consideration of the fact that this case was filed in 2008 and that it has been in court for nine years, cost of N2 million is awarded against NAFDAC. Interest shall be paid at the rate of 10 per cent yearly until liquidation of the said sum.”
ICPC Arrests Bank Manager for Failure to Properly Load Cash into ATMs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Operation Manager of a branch of a commercial bank in Osogbo, Osun State, has been arrested by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
A statement issued by ICPC on Friday disclosed that the bank manager was apprehended by its compliance team and taken in for questioning.
It was alleged that the banker loaded the bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed to customers, who have formed long queues amid a scarcity of the Naira in the country.
According to the statement, when it discovered this anomaly, the team directed that the wrappers are removed, and the cash be loaded properly.
“However, when a follow-up visit was undertaken the following day to ascertain the level of compliance, the team discovered that one of the ATMs was still loaded with the wrappers un-removed,” the statement said, prompting his arrest.
In a related development, an official of another commercial bank in Abuja has been apprehended by the commission. The bank official was accused of deliberately refusing to load cash into the branch’s ATMs even when the cash was available and people were queuing at the ATM terminals.
According to the ICPC, when its monitoring team arrived at the bank at about 1:30 pm to ensure compliance and demanded an explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, it was informed by the branch’s Head of Operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.
But the agency claimed that available facts indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash around 11:58 am and either wilfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.
Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.
“Investigations are still ongoing, and the commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded,” a statement from the ICPC said.
The organisation explained that it embarked on the monitoring “in continuation of its clampdown at elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public.”
Union Bank Secures IFC’s $30m Loan to Finance Trade, SMEs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A loan worth $30 million has been secured by Union Bank of Nigeria Plc from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support small businesses in the country.
It was gathered that the credit facility would boost access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and support increased trade, as it would enable the bank to expand lending to hundreds of businesses operating in critical sectors in the country, including food, healthcare, manufacturing, and services.
The $30 million loan will allow Union Bank to increase trade financing and working capital lending to Nigerian businesses, including those whose cashflows have been strained by recent disruptions in global and local markets.
“As a bank, we are deeply committed to enabling success for SMEs. We understand the critical role of small businesses in leading Nigeria’s economy towards growth.
“This funding from IFC will enable us to extend financial relief to our customers during this difficult time. I am confident that the funds will help these businesses harness opportunities and preserve jobs,” the chief executive of Union Bank, Mr Mudassir Amray, said.
Also commenting on the development, IFC’s Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Mr Kalim Shah, said, “Strengthening supply chains and trade flows through working capital financing sets the stage for faster growth and economic diversification in Nigeria.
“IFC’s partnership with Union Bank is part of a wider strategy to ensure the flow of goods and services are sustained despite global trade disruptions.”
The credit facility to Union Bank is being made through IFC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Working Capital Solutions Envelope, which was launched in 2020 to provide funding to existing IFC clients in emerging markets that will then extend new loans to companies affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Recent disruptions to the global economy following COVID-19, including from rising inflation and limited access to finance, have left many businesses in Nigeria, particularly SMEs, struggling with supply chain shortages, increased cost of doing business and limited trade growth.
The partnership with Union Bank underscores IFC’s commitment to supporting smaller businesses in Nigeria, helping them preserve and create jobs and access critical inputs.
The loan is supported by the blended finance facility of the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window, which mitigates the financial risks associated with investments in sectors like SMEs and agribusiness.
IFC has an active investment portfolio of $2.3 billion in Nigeria – the second largest in Africa after South Africa – across sectors including agribusiness, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, and financial services.
New Notes: CBN Directs Banks to Payout Maximum N20,000 Daily Via Tellers
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay their customers the new Naira notes a maximum of N20,000 daily.
This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday, February 2, 2023, by the apex bank, signed by its spokesman, Mr Osita Nwanisobi.
According to the CBN, this development is to ease the sufferings Nigerians are going through to access the new banknotes from their banks and other channels.
Earlier, Business Post reported that commercial banks were not paying their customers because of a cash crunch. Most banks were unable to honour the cash withdrawals of their customers because they had no new notes to pay and were not allowed to pay with the old currency notes.
In the statement released today, the central bank said it “noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them. Also worrisome are the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.”
The bank said to ease the pressure, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, “has directed deposit money banks (DMBs) to commence the payment of the redesigned Naira notes over-the-counter (OTC), subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.”
However, the CBN warned “Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies,” stressing that, “The Naira is our legal tender and symbol of national pride. Therefore, let us respect it and handle it with care.”
The apex bank urged “members of the public to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.”
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