A group, the Nigerian Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED) has threatened to commence contempt proceedings against the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) over alleged contempt of court.
NAPPMED made this known in Abuja through its counsel, Mr Val Igboanusi, in a letter to PCN to that effect, made available to the Street Journal on Tuesday.
The group, in the letter, accused PCN of disobeying the doctrine of “lis pendens’’, which prohibits parties in a case from taking further steps in the case, pending the final determination of the suit.
Igboanusi’s letter was written in response to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that PCN allegedly cajoled NAPPMED into signing with the council on Nov. 21, 2014.
In the letter titled: “Rejection of the above Memorandum of Understanding’’, Igboanusi said PCN compelled NAPPMED to sign the MoU, in spite of a pending case between them before an Abuja Federal High Court.
The said letter reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to the Memorandum of Understanding dated 21 November, 2014, which your council purportedly entered into with our client without involving its solicitors, knowing full well of the pending matter in the Federal High Court, Abuja with suit No: FHC/CS/872/13.
“It is, therefore, our client’s instruction to reject and repudiate the said Memorandum of Understanding, as the same violates the doctrine of lis pendens and cannot stand.
“Henceforth, we shall not fail to invoke the coercive apparatus of the court and initiate contempt proceedings which will attract jail sentences to your officers as a deterrent to infraction of the law,’’ Igboanusi warned.
Igboanusi also said that after interpreting the clauses in the said MoU to his clients, they realised that they had been cajoled into signing the said document under duress.
NAPPMED also alleged that PCN officials invaded, violated and looted the shops of its members nationwide in order to cow them into the MoU, in flagrant disrespect to the pending case in court.
It would be recalled that NAPPMED had filed a suit in 2014 seeking to nullify the 2003 guidelines by the Minister of Health for issuing patent medicine vendors’ licenses.
Joined in the suit are the Minister of Health, PCN and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, as co-defendants.
The group claimed that the issuance of new guidelines in 2003 on patent and proprietary medicines license in Nigeria violated Section 51 (2) of the Pharmacy Act already covered by a court judgment.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, had since Sept, 24, 1996, delivered judgment in NAPPMED’s favour, citing Section 51 (2) of the Pharmacy Act.
The case, which is pending before Justice Adeniyi Ademola, is slated for hearing on June 4, 2015.