Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday fixed June 25, 2020, for the arraignment of two supermarkets and two pharmacies charged for hiking prices of key hygiene products such as hand sanitisers and face masks.
The companies were charged to court by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) for allegedly taking undue advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to inflate prices of key hygiene products including hand sanitisers and face masks contrary to Section 108(1) of FCCP Act 2018.
However, when the matter was called on Monday, prosecution counsel, Babatunde Irukere, told the court that the matter was for arraignment and that they were ready for the matter as scheduled.
But counsel to the first and second defendants (H-Medics and Sandra Ejekwe), Abubakar Mohammed, announced that the second defendant could not appear in court as she was not served with the court notice.
In a separate matter of similar offence involving Bakan Gizo Pharmacy and Store, Ray Opia and Luter Irene, the defence counsel, Festus Okpe, informed the court that the second defendant, who has been in Lagos since January was restricted from appearing in court due to the ban on interstate travel.
Other defendants in the matter, Prince Ebeano Super Market and David Chukwuma sent an electronic communication explaining their reasons for being absent in court.
In his explanation, Chukwuma blamed his inability to appear in court on interstate movement restriction by the Federal Government due to COVID-19.
Earlier, the presiding judge, Justice Nkonye Maha, raised the issue of jurisdiction, stressing that the matter ought to have been taken to the tribunal.
The judge, however, settled down to hear the matter after the issue was cleared and after due consideration, the judge adjourned the matter till June 25 and ordered that all parties to the matter be served with notices to ensure they are all in court on the next adjourned date.
Some of the charges are: “That you, H-Medix Pharmacy &Sons Ltd, Sandra Ejekwu(f) and John Oluwagbemiga (m) at various times between the 28th day of February 2020 and the 6th day of March 2020, at H-Medix Pharmacy & Sores Ltd, 43 Ademola Adetokumbo crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja and other retail trading outlets of H-Medix Pharmacy and stores Ltd, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did engage in making false, misleading, deceptive representation in relation to the price of sanitisers, hand-wash liquids and disinfectants of various existing brands on display at your retail outlets and thereby committed an offence contrary to Sector 125(1) (a) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 and punishable under Section 155 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018.
“That you, Prince Eleanor Supermarket Ltd and David Chukwuma Ojei (m) at various times between the 28th day of February 2020 and the 6th day of March 2020, at Prince Eleanor Supermarket Ltd, Plot 551, Abdusalam Abubakar Way, Gaduwa, Lokogoma Junction, Abuja and other retail trading outlets of Prince Eleanor Supermarket Ltd, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did conspire, combine, agree and arrange to unreasonably enhance the price of sanitisers, hand wash liquids and disinfectants of various existing brands and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 108(1) (b) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 and punishable under Section 108(4) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018.”