FG arraigns firms June 25 for high prices of hygiene products
• Considers relocation of COVID-19 patients for lack of bed spaces
The Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed June 25 for the arraignment of two supermarkets and two pharmacies accused of hiking prices of key hygiene products, including hand sanitisers and face masks.
The companies were charged by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) for allegedly taking undue advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to inflate prices of the items contrary to Section 108(1) of FCCP Act 2018.
However, when the matter was called yesterday, prosecution counsel, Babatunde Irukere, expressed their readiness, but lawyer to the first and second defendants (H-Medics and Sandra Ejekwe), Abubakar Mohammed, announced that the latter could not appear in court on account non-service.
In a separate but related matter involving Bakan Gizo Pharmacy and Store, Ray Opia and Luter Irene, the defence attorney, Festus Okpe, informed the court that the second defendant, who has been in Lagos since January, could not make it due to the ban on interstate travels.
Other defendants, Prince Ebeano Super Market and David Chukwuma, explained their absence via an electronic communication.
Chukwuma blamed the restriction on interstate movements for his non-appearance.
Earlier, the presiding judge, Justice Nkonye Maha, raised the issue of jurisdiction, noting that the case ought to have been taken to the tribunal.
She eventually settled down to hear the matter after clearance.
Consequently, Justice Maha ordered that all parties be notified before adjourning till June 25.
Meanwhile, following the shortage of bed spaces in most of the isolation centres in the country, the Federal Government is considering sending some patients to neighboring states with fewer COVID-19 cases and more facilities.
Besides, a verbal autopsy on the mystery deaths in Kano in April this year has revealed that between 50 and 60 per cent of the fatalities may have been triggered by coronavirus amid underlining ailments.