Our Logo

Our New logo
After careful and thoughtful design, ERA is proud to introduce to all its brand new and exciting logo.
It shows people standing in solidarity, hands linked together, determined to defend their environmental/human rights.
The "legs" represent our roots and shows how firmly we are rooted in the earth. And the green? Naturally stands for our life and the environment.
Thus, the message is clear.... the environment is our life ... Let's defend it!!!


Tobacco Suits: Lagos court adjourns, Gombe sue for N600billion
Friday, 25 May 2007

Proceedings continued today before Justice Atinue  Ipaye at the Lagos State High Court, in the suit filed by the Attorney General of Lagos State and Environmental Rights Action (ERA) against British American Tobacco (Nigeria) Limited, and five others. The suit came up for report of service of all the Court’s processes on the Defendants. The Claimants were represented by the Attorney General of Lagos State, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), the Director of Civil Litigation in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Lawal Pedro and a retinue of state and private counsels. The 1st Defendant had entered an appearance, with Kola Awodein (SAN) leading a group of lawyers on its behalf.

The Claimants reported to the Court that all the Defendants, both foreign and local, had been served. Professor Osinbajo (SAN) stressed the grave public health concern of the Lagos State Government in the case. None of the Defendants as at the time of filing this report had filed any defence to the substantive allegations of the Claimants. In what appears to be a technical shade to the unfolding saga, British American Tobacco (Nigeria) Limited, filed a preliminary objection to the suit at the close of business on Friday 18th of May 2007. In the objection, the 1st Defendant objects to the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court to entertain the suit on three grounds: that the matter was entirely a tobacco control  and advertisement matter, that the Claimants did not pay filing fees, and that the Claimant had not substantiated their medical claims.

Taking into cognizance the legal principles applicable in Nigeria’s jurisprudence, these issues would have to be resolved one way or the other before the substantive matter would proceed. Justice Ipaye noted this much, and adjourned proceedings till the 3rd of July 2007 by which time all the Defendants are expected to have filed and served their Defences. It is also expected that the Claimants’ response to the issues raised in the preliminary objection, and any further reply thereto by the 1st Defendant, would have been properly filed and served. The Preliminary Objection would thus be ripe for hearing on the adjourned date and would be taken in order that the substantive proceedings may continue or abate. As at the timing of filing this report, the Claimants’ were in the process of filing their response to the preliminary objection and the clear indications are that all the grounds relied upon would be opposed for being untenable in law. Some observers opined and deemed this preliminary objection as a strategy to rely on technicalities to stifle substantive justice that follows a well-defined pattern adopted by the Defendants the world over, to avert liability.

In another related development, the Gombe State Government has filed a similar action in its State High Court seeking extensive reliefs from the Gombe State High Court against BAT and others. The focus of the case is the prevention of youth smoking, the amelioration of the impending health epidemic in Gombe State, and recovery of health care costs expended by the State Government in treating tobacco related diseases. The state also seeks about N 600 Billion in special, anticipatory and punitive damages from the Defendants. It would be recalled that Kano State joined Lagos State in filing actions seeking to protect the public health from the alleged grievous conduct of the Defendants marketing to youths, manipulating nicotine in their products, suppressing research and recent concentration in Nigeria.

A particularly interesting dimension was added to the growing and significant world wide debate on the health effects of smoking and the Government’s responsibility in that regard, when Saudi Arabian authorities taking a cue from the precedents in Nigeria filed a similar action against Big tobacco companies. This action also seeks judicial review of the tobacco companies’ conduct. The claim lies in the region of $2.67 Billion.
< Prev   Next >

Presentations and Papers

© 2008 Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.