An engineer based in Lagos, Erasmus Ahamefule has dragged the Nigerian Bottling Company, makers of Cocacola, Fanta, Sprite and other carbonated drinks, to a Lagos High Court on allegations that the company was circulating adulterated bottles of Schweppes to the public.
Ahamefule is claiming that he had bought the Schweppes drink at a shop near his residence in the FESTAC area of Lagos for the purpose of entertaining a business partner and was about opening the bottle for his guest when he discovered a dead ant floating in the liquid inside the Schweppes bottle. Claiming that he had petitioned the company and the Consumer Protection Council showing pictures of the drink, the claimant is asking the court for N25 million in damages for what he called “an act of negligence” on the part of the NBC.
His counsel, D.C. Monye told the court that attempts by both parties to settle the matter out of court failed, hence the court case.
“The parties did meet and explored options of settlement but settlement talks broke down and did not materialize. In this circumstance, we shall be asking for a trial date,” he was quoted to have told sources.
Incidents of contaminated drinks, especially the discovery of foreign bodies in bottled drinks in Nigeria is rampant, making most people to query the standards in most manufacturing companies in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Bottling Company has in the past, had many of such cases that are frequently and too quickly dismissed as the handiworks of counterfeiters. Complaints against NBC has been many in the past but the company usually responded by taking people on facility tours where they try to show how it was impossible for foreign bodies to get into bottles of drinks produced in their plants.
The company’s position seems to be hooked on the suspicion that some mischief makers may be exploiting such situations to extort money from the company. But the recent N1 billion fine imposed by the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Guinness Nigeria Plc over allegations of poor manufacturing practice is perhaps a factor that is making the public take fresh looks at claims by makers of bottled drinks in Nigeria that they have always adhered to good manufacturing standards.
Guinness has been adamant about paying the fine and had actually challenged the regulator in court in what looks like a long fight by this brewer whose numbers in the market have also not been too good of recent.
A suit like this one against NBC will likely trigger stronger regulatory oversight on manufacturing companies in Nigeria, especially happening so quickly after the sour revelation at Guinness.
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