Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nigeria vs. Pfizer: All hype and bluster.

Five months after the Federal Government in Nigeria brought criminal charges against Pfizer Pharmaceutical and its directors, the court summon is yet to be served on the company and its directors.

Many in the U.S. would not trust Nigerian justice and the fact that Nigeria has been all hype and talk and little legal action in their attempt to bring Pfizer to justice supports this conclusion.

The African country is asking for billions in damages, but can't even manage to sort out how to serve an international corporation properly.

The whole process is rather laughable.

The charge is related alleged complicity of Pfizer in the 1996 drug test of Trovan in Kano, during an outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis.

At the resumed hearing of the trial yesterday, the government, represented by Mr Obinna Ogbuagu, requested for more time to serve the summon.

"We are yet to effect service on the accused basedin the U.S. We urge the court for an adjournment to do this," Ogbuagu told the court. Justice Anwuri Chikere accepted the request and adjourned the case to April 10, for report of service.

The court has been adjourned over and over again, and at this point the whole thing looks more like a circus than a legal proceeding.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) later, Ogbuagu said "the American legal process requires that we file some processes in the country before we can serve court summons on their citizens. It has been very difficult for us to meet up with the requirement."

He, however, said government had made considerable progress, and promised that the service would be effected before the adjourned date.

Officials of the drug company yet to be served are the former Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, Mr William Steeve, and the Director of Medical Research, Mr Scott Hopkins.

Others are the two medical doctors who conducted the test, Michael Dune and Deborah Williams.


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