A Lagos High Court has dismissed an application filed before it by the Nigeria Bottling Company Plc, NBC, seeking the order of the court to stay execution of its judgment mandating an NBC warning on its products. In February, the court ruled that the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, should mandate the NBC to include the warning on all bottles of Fanta and Sprite, soft drinks manufactured by the company. According to the judgement, the NBC must state that content in such bottles of Fanta and Sprite cannot be taken with Vitamin C as they become poisonous if taken. On Monday, the court ordered conditional stay of execution of N2 million cost awarded against NAFDAC, but ordered the agency to pay the money into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by NAFDAC. The ruling of the judge, Adedayo Oyebanji was sequel to an application filed and argued before the court by a Lagos lawyer, T.A. Busari, on behalf of the NBC. Mr. Busari urged the court to stay the execution of the judgement on the ground that the order made by the court will adversely affect the operation of the company if the execution of same is not stayed pending the outcome of the appeal filed by the company. He argued that the order made by the court was prejudicial to its business, policy and reputation as a foremost beverage company. Meanwhile, in a related development, another lawyer, Taiwo Osipitan, filed and argued an application for stay of execution of the judgement of the court on behalf of NAFDAC. Mr. Osipitan contended that NAFDAC has appealed against the judgement of the court to the Court of Appeal, and the appeal raises jurisdictional issues which affects the competence of the suit and the validity of the judgement of the court. He explained that if the judgement is not stayed, NAFDAC appeal will be rendered academic. However, in opposition, Abiodun Onidare, who is the counsel to the claimants, Fijabi Adebo and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holding, argued that the paramount interest of the public was what mattered most and not the business policy and reputation of the NBC. Mr. Onidare further argued that the application for stay must fail because the defendant has failed to put before the court, materials which will necessitate the grant of same . In her ruling, Mrs. Oyebanji said, “It seems to the court evidence that in the event of a refusal of the application for stay of execution, if the business interest of the Nigeria Bottling company is consequently adversely affected, a return to status quo can be achieved if Nigeria Bottling Company’s appeal at the court of appeal succeeds. It is beyond argument that if the application for stay is granted and human health is consequently adversely affected, it is most unlikely that there can indeed be a return to status quo. “It is imperative to add the resultant effect of the order sought to be stayed is the preservation of human life, the business interest of Nigeria bottling company cannot in my respected view take precedent over public health. The importance of public health is clearly demonstrated and underscored by the constitutional provision in section 45 thereof. “For the reasons herein adumbrated, it seems to me manifest that Nigeria Bottling Company has failed to disclose any special circumstances which would warrant the grant of this application.

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