In a co-signed statement by the Head, Public Affairs & Communications of NBC, Uzo Odenigbo and Head, Public Affairs & Communications of CCNL, Clem Ugorji, the companies said they had only noted from media reports that criminal charges had been instituted against both companies as a result of the Consumer Protection Council’s CPC’s reaction to February 2014 complaint by a consumer involving two short–filled cans of Sprite.
The statement said NBC and CCNL had the utmost respect for the CPC as a regulator and an agency of government and would continue to co-operate with the council on the matter.
According to the statement, “we filed applications for a judicial review of these orders in February 2014, which review is pending in the courts. We do not believe that our submission to judicial review is in violation of the council’s orders. We have full trust in the Nigerian judicial system.
“Our consumers and customers are our highest priority. NBC and CCNL take all matters relating to our products very seriously and remain committed to maintaining the highest international quality and food safety standards.”
It added, “out of respect for the ongoing court processes, we do not wish to comment further in public on this issue.”
It could be recalled that in February CPC warned Coca-Cola that Nigeria was not a “dumping ground for substandard products” and that it had also been inundated with complaints about rusty cans, rusty bottle tops and foreign particles in beverages. It said the half-filled cans continued to evaporate during its investigation.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), in a charge filed before the court, preferred a one-count charge against the NBC and its managing director and a two-count charge against Coca-Cola Nigeria limited and its chief executive.
In the charge filed by the Director, Public Prosecutions of the Federation on behalf of the AGF against NBC and its managing director, Mr. Ben Langat, the government alleged that the two accused persons had committed an offence by violating the orders of the Consumer Protection Council.
Specifically, they were accused of, “deliberately failing, refusing and/or neglecting to comply with the Council’s orders duly made and served on you and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 21 of the Consumer Protection Council Act, Cap C. 25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section.”