Five people accused of dealing with adulterated rice in Akwa Ibom state were prosecuted on Tuesday before the Federal Superior Court, sitting on UdoUdoma Avenue Uyo, the state capital.
Latest Nigeria newspaper report that The presiding judge, Judge Anulika Okeke, read the case with charge number FHC / UY / 70C / 19 before the five defendants, who pleaded not guilty to all charges of 17 charges brought against them by the Federal Commission of Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCPC).
The charges say in parts: “The five have been accused of advertising and displaying for sale, defective, unsafe and bagged rice, committing a crime contrary to Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Council Act, Cap. C25 , Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. ”
The Court granted a bond to all defendants with N5 million each and must have obtained property within the jurisdiction of the Court.
Latest Nigeria newspaper report that The judge added that the defendant should be placed in pretrial detention while the conditions of bail are met.
Speaking to reporters after the court, the Commission’s chief lawyer, Babatunde Irukera, said the commission carried out operations in Uyo on June 22, 2018, where the defendants were arrested for re-bagging contaminated smuggled rice for consumer consumption
According to him, “what happened today in court was a reading of charges.
“Almost a year and a half ago, we carried out an operation here on behalf of people who were regrouping the smuggled contaminated rice for consumer consumption. Between then and now, we have concluded the investigation.
“We have been struggling for quite some time to launch the judicial process. They have resisted arrest several times, but finally, we have been able to go to court.
“They have been prosecuted and presented today and the trial is about to begin.
“My position on this is simple, that everyone should have their day in court, we would respect their right. But the times when you can violate the right of consumers and think that the worst thing that can happen is that your assets are confiscated should stop.
“That cannot be the only retribution. Until people are actually taken through the judicial process and people suffer the appropriate penalty for their inappropriate behavior, we would not obtain the responsible society.
“We are grateful that this is happening. We hope to prosecute this case until the end.
“This case would serve as a deterrent. I do not think that people who traffic rice and sell it with other things have conceived that they could end up in prison.
“You can see that the judge has referred these defendants, waiting for them to fulfill the condition of bail. These are very vital steps on how to build a society that is fair to all.”
In addition, the defendant’s principal lawyer, Christian Odoh, denied that his clients evaded his appearance in court.
Idoh said his clients pleaded not guilty to all charges of 17 charges, requested bail and the court granted them and then suspended the hearing.
“They are not evading the appearance in court. It is only when you commit a crime that you will be fleeing. Again, we do not consider the amount of the bond to be excessive, “said Idoh.