By George Onah
Port Harcourt-Some women and men living with HIV in Rivers State have gone to a Port Harcourt Federal High Court demanding 50 billion US dollars as compensation from the federal government for being infected with the virus after using condoms imported by the government
The litigants are also asking the court to stop all federal health agencies and others from further importation, distribution, advertising and the use of condoms for the purported prevention of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria..
Particularly, the plaintiffs said they were infected by condoms and used as guinea pigs in the test trial of Cellulose Sulphate Gel (female contraceptive), as such the government should stop the national policy on HIV and use of condoms.
Consequently, the Federal High Court 1, Port Harcourt , presided over by Justice Gladys Olotu granted the defense counsels 77 days to file their objection to the suit brought before the court
The plaintiffs include Mr. Sunday Emmanuel, Mr. Dozie Iwuji, Miss Emmanuel Ugwueze, Miss Nkem Obi, Mr. Ikechukwu Ukwu and Rosemary Ndifon, Dr. Lawson Alozie Akpulonu, Mr. M.G.Bendi and HIV/AIDS Reseach, information and Treatment Foundation, Miss Ekaette Sunday, Miss Chinwe Uchendu, Miss Chidinma Kingsley, Mr. Iheanyichi Anosike,
The defendants are: Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation.
Others include former director-general of NAFDAC Prof. Dora Akunyili, former Health Minister Babatunde Oshotimehin, Society for Family Health, Family Health international, You Need US Corporation and Contraceptive Research and Development, USA.
However, defense counsel Sebastine T. Hon (SAN) representing the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), co-respondent in the suit, told Vanguard, yesterday that, “we have filed a preliminary suit of objection. So many others have also filed”.
In his preliminary objection, Hon sought the court to strike out the suit against NAFDAC “for want of jurisdiction occasioned by failure to comply with the mandatory provisions of section 27(1) of the NAFDAC Act, Cap N1, LFN, 2004”.
“What happened in court was that we were out of time to enter appearance because we were not briefed on time. So we have filed the motion for the extension of time which was granted as the key allegation in the suit is objection in limine (meaning at the threshold) thus need to be proven”, he said.
Counsels to the plaintiffs, the federal government, NACA and others were absent at the sitting