A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned to February 3, 2015 for ruling on fiat issued by the Attorney General of the Federation Mohammed Adoke to Bayo Ojo, SAN, to prosecute Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, its managing director, Adeola Adetunji, and the Chief Executive of Nigerian Bottling Company, Ben Langat.
The fiat is for alleged breach of the Consumers Protection Council Act. Adetunji was in court Thursday in line with the directive of the court.
However, despite the presence of the executive, the matter did not take place because the trial judge’s ruling on the legality of the fiat was not ready.
Justice Elvis Chukwu had fixed yesterday for ruling to decide the competence and authority of Ojo to prosecute the case, but a registrar of the court informed counsel and parties in the matter that the ruling was not ready.
The court then fixed February 3, for the ruling.
The office of the AGF had instituted two separate criminal suits against Coca-Cola, NBC alongside their chief executives over alleged violation of CPC Act.
The defendants are challenging the mandate given to Ojo by the attorney general to prosecute them for alleged violation of the CPC Act. They are also challenging the competence of the charge and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge.
At the last adjourned date, counsel to the accused persons, Gbolahan Elias (SAN) for Coca-Cola and its chief executive and Oluseyi Ope Santa (SAN) – for NBC and its chief executive – were about to move their application objecting to the suit when the prosecution counsel informed the court that the accused persons were not present in court.
Counsel to the accused persons contended that the accused persons needed not to be in court since they were challenging the mandate to prosecute the case and the competence of the charge.
But the prosecution counsel told the court that criminal trial could not begin without the presence of the accused persons.
He also reminded the court that the order to paste the charges on the front wall of the accused offices had been complied with and that the accused ought to be in court.
The trial judge, however, insisted that the accused persons must appear in court before he would hear the objections.
Moving their applications, both Elias and Opesanya prayed the court to disqualify Ojo from prosecuting the matter on ground that he is the counsel to CPC in a matter pending before a Lagos High Court, where NBC is seeking judicial review of CPC’s decision on the subject matter.