Three Pfizer officials to be arrested.
A high court in Nigeria's northern Kano state has ordered the arrest of the boss of the Nigerian subsidiary of Pfizer International, Ngozi Edozien, and two other officials of the company, Larry Barry and Segun Duro, for failing to honour the court's summons, over the case of illegal administration of a meningitis drug on 200 children in the state in 1996, the local media reported Tuesday.
The presiding judge, Shehu Atiku said it is evident that three of the accused have actually been served with summons to appear before the court on November 6, 2007 but until this time none of them has appeared before the court either out of neglect or disrespect of court or contempt, he said before he issued the warrant of arrest and adjourned the case to January 29, 2008.
Issuing the warrant of arrest against the officials Monday, Justice Shehu Atiku ruled they were in contempt of the court.
The state government has filed a criminal suit against the international drugs company for causing the death of 11 children and various degrees of impairment to many others, by administering the unapproved drug, Trovan, on the kids during an outbreak of meningitis in the state in 1996.
The criminal case has been deadlocked over non- appearance of the accused without which the criminal proceedings cannot commence.
The judge was constrained from issuing arrest warrant to Pfizer International Incorporated by the motion its counsel Nelson Ezuegbu filed challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
“Pfizer International Incorporated having filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of this court is exempted from the bench warrant”, Atiku said.
The prosecution accused the three accused of delaying proceedings by assigning a lawyer to sign the acceptance of the summons issued them and filing a suit against the policeman who served them before a Lagos state High Court challenging the Kano High Court’s jurisdiction and demanding for $5 billion damages for the alleged breach of their fundamental human rights.
In the criminal case, Kano state government had accused Pfizer of conspiracy, culpable homicide and causing grave harm to the victims of the alleged drug trial.
Hearing in the case, which has attracted international attention, has been adjourned till 29 January 2008.