Guinness Nigeria Plc and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has opted to explore an out of court settlement to resolve the dispute generated by the N1bn fine imposed on the brewer by NAFDAC.
NAFDAC had imposed the fine on Guinness as administrative charges for various clandestine violations of NAFDAC rules, regulations and enactments over a long period of time.
However, dissatisfied, with the fine, Guinness approached the Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbisere asking it to restrain NAFDAC and the attorney-general of the federation from enforcing the sanction pending the determination of the suit.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, lawyer to Guinness, Bala Salihu informed the court that the parties had started a process to settled the matter out of court.
He therefore urged the court to grant them a short adjournment to enable them finalise the discussion.
This position was confirmed by lawyer to NAFDAC, O. M Abutu, who told the court that the parties are indeed talking and are in the process of resolving the issue.
Based on the development, Justice Wasiu Animahun adjourned the case to March 16, 2016, for mention.
In a letter addressed to the managing director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Peter Ndegwa, by the head, investigation and enforcement of NAFDAC, Kingsley Ejiofor, the regulatory agency had requested for the payment of the N1bn as administrative charges for infractions such as the disruption of activities carried out by the company without the authorisation and supervision of the agency.
The agency also accused Guinness of revalidating expired products without authorisation and supervision by NAFDAC, as well as failing to secure the gate of its warehouse as the raw materials used in the production of beer and non-alcoholic beverages by the firm were permanently opened to intrusion and exposure to the elements and rodents, which “invariably affect the integrity of the raw materials”.
The brewer was also alleged to have maintained poor documentation record and failed to comply with conditions contained in the certificate of validation of the revalidated malt extract, which required the storage of the items in cool and dry place and elimination of exposure to sunlight.
Guinness Plc had in its originating motion prayed the court for an order of restraining NAFDAC and AGF from imposing any sanction on it other than as recorgnised by law and the constitution.