FG To Arraign British-American Tobacco For Obstructing Cause Of Justice

 

 

By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

 

The Federal Government through Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (PCCPC) has slammed a three-count charge of perverting the cause of justice, against British American Tabacco Nigeria Limited (BATN)

Charged alongside BATN before a Lagos Federal High Court, is one Austin Okonji, said to be the tobacco’s firm Risk Manager.

Both BATN and Okonji were alleged to have perverted the cause of justice, by obstructing and impeding the police and PCCPC officials to execute a search warrant issued by an Abuja Division of the Court, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1662/2020, issued on December 29, 2020 and renewed on January 5, 2021.

PCCPC alleged that criminal offences were by both the BATN and Okonji, committed the offences at their Lagos office, located at 2, Olumegbon Close Ikoyi.

Meanwhile, the court presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa, of the Lagos Division has fixed July 16, for BATN and Okonji’s arraignment.

The charges against the Defendants read, “Count One: “That you British American Tabacco Nigeria Limited and Austin Okonji ‘M’ on Olumegbon Close Ikoyi Lagos State within about the 25th day of January 2021, at No. 2, Olumegbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did obstruct and impede access to the Authorised Officers of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in the execution of a search warrant issued by an Order of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division made in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1662/2020 on 29th December 2020 and renewed on 5th January 2021, which Warrant was issued pursuant to Sections 2 and 29 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act. 2018 and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 28(5) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 and punishable under the same Act.

“Count Two, “That you British American Tobacco Nigeria Limited and Austin Okonji ‘M’ on or about the 25th day of January 2021, at No. 2, Olumegbon Close Ikoyi, Lagos State within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court did impede and obstruct Investigation by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission when execution of a search, warrant issued by an Order of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division made in Suit No. FHC/AB/CS/1662/2020 on 23 December 2020 and renewed on 5 January 2021, which Warrant was issued pursuant to Sections 27, 28, and 29 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection on Act, 2018 and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 110 of the Federal Competition Consumer Protection and punishable under Section 110 of the Act.

“Count Three, “that you British American Tobacco Nigeria Limited and Austin Okonji, on or about the 25th day of January 5 2021, at No.2 Olumeghon Close Ikoyi, Lagos State, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court having a business and being an employee in the tobacco industry did hinder the police and Authorised Officers of the Federal Competition end Consumer Protection Commission under Section 20 (1)(a) and (f) of the National Tobacco Regulation, 20 9 in the course of carrying out their duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 32(4) of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, and punishable under Section 34 (1) and (2)(b) of the same Act.”

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