TheFederal High Court, Abuja, has fixed June 25 for the arraignment of proprietors of four supermarkets alleged arbitrary hike of prices of sanitizer, hand-wash liquids, disinfectants and other anti-bacterial hygiene products.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) dragged the proprietors and their supermarkets to court for allegedly taking undue advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to inflate prices of the products contrary to Section 108(1) of FCCP Act 2018.
When the matter was called, the Prosecution counsel, Mr Babatunde Irukere, told the court that the matter was for arraignment.
However, Mr Abubakar Mohammed, counsel to H-Medix and Sandra Ejekwe told the court his client was not in court because she was not served with the processes.
In a separate matter of the same charge involving Bakan Gizo Pharmacy and Store, Ray Opia and Luter Irene, the defence counsel, Mr Festus Okpe, informed the court that his client was unable to attend court due to the ban on interstate travel.
The lawyer said that his client, although based in Abuja, travelled to Lagos since January and had not been able to return to Abuja.
In another suit filed by the FCCPC, the defendants in the matter, Prince Ebeano Supermarket and David Chukwuma sent an electronic communication explaining their absence in court.
Chukwuma blamed his inability to appear in court on the restriction on interstate movement by the Federal Government due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the presiding judge, Justice Nkeonye Maha, asked the prosecutor to convince the court on why she should assume jurisdiction over the matter since the counsel had a tribunal that should handle such matters.
Following explanations from Irukere, the judge accepted to hear the matter and adjourned it until June 25.
She ordered the defence counsel to ensure that all defendants are in court on the next adjourn date.
The judge further directed that all parties in the matter should be served with relevant processes.
One of the charge is: That you, H-Medix Pharmacy & Sons Ltd, Sandra Ejekwu(f) and John Oluwagbemiga (m) at various times between Feb. 28, and March, 6 at H-Medix Pharmacy & Sores Ltd, 43 Ademola Adetokumbo Crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja and other retail trading outlets of H-Medix Pharmacy and stores Ltd, within the jurisdiction of this court, did engage in making false, misleading, deceptive representation in relation to the price of sanitizers, hand-wash liquids and disinfectants of various existing brands on display at your retail outlets and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 125(1) (a) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 and punishable under Section 155 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018.
Another charge reads: That you, Prince Ebeanor Supermarket Ltd and David Chukwuma (m) at various times between the Feb. 28 March 6 at Prince Ebeanor Supermarket Ltd, Plot 551, Abdusalam Abubakar Way, Gaduwa, Lokogoma Junction, Abuja and other retail trading outlets of Prince Ebeanor Supermarket Ltd, within the jurisdiction of this court, did conspire, combine, agree and arrange to unreasonably enhance the price of sanitizers, hand wash liquids and disinfectants of various existing brands and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 108(1) (b) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 and punishable under Section 108(4) of the federal competition and consumer protection Act, 2018.