Lagos – A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday reserved judgment till May 16, in a suit filed against Barewa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, charged with the production of an alleged killer syrup, “My Pikin”.
The company was dragged to court by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), alongside two of its employees, Adeyemo Abiodun and Ebele Eromosele.
Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the court, fixed the date after parties in the suit had adopted their final written addresses.
Counsel to the company, Mr Osaro Eghobamien (SAN), urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused as the prosecution had failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on it.
Eghobamien argued that NAFDAC failed to adopt a constructive approach in proving the charges against the company.
He said the prosecution should have presented a toxocological or pathological report to show that the alleged “deaths” arose from the consumption of “My Pikin Teething Syrup”.
Eghobamien argued that the samples of the syrup collected from the company was not shown to be the same as that which was analysed, investigated and presented before the court.
“The process of scientific evidence is that the samples taken from the accused must be shown to be the same with that analysed and presented in court.
“The chain must not be broken,” he told the court, adding that NAFDAC failed to tender the analysed substance in court and never bothered to compare it with those extracted from the accused company.
He said the failure created a lacuna in the case of the prosecution.
He also told the court that several conflicts in the testimonies of two prosecution witnesses revealed the fact that it was “My Pikin” Paracetamol Syrup that was analysed and not the teething syrup.
Eghobamien also argued that no death certificates were presented as evidence by NAFDAC from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where the alleged deaths occurred.
“My Pikin Teething Syrup is a drug for children under the ages of three.
“A confirmation from the Chief Medical Director, LUTH, showed that the children, who were reported dead in the hospital during the period, were between the ages of 10 and 11.
“Barewa Pharmaceutical Company has been in operation since 1985, and so, it is incredible that they will deliberately kill children with their products, despite their long standing in the profession,” Eghobamien said.
He, therefore, urged the court to discharge the accused as the the case of the prosecution lacked merit.
Counsel to the second and third accused, Mr Emma Ideh, aligned with the submission of Eghobamien.
The Prosecutor, Mr Aminu Alilu, however, urged the court to uphold the case of the prosecution and convict the accused as charged.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the accused were re-arraigned on Jan. 7, after the charge was amended, following the death of the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kola Gbadegeshin.
The accused pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.
“My Pikin” Teething Syrup was alleged to have killed over 80 children in the country.
The offence is said to contravene the provisions of section 1 (a) of the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Ffoods(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No. 25 of 1999.
If found guilty, an accused is liable to a fine not exceeding N500,000 or imprisonment for a term not less than five years or more than 15 years, or to both fine and imprisonment.
NAN reports that during the trial, the prosecution called seven witnesses and the defence invited only one witness. (NAN)