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January 15th, 2008:

FG Seeks N130bn Damages against Philip Morris

Tobacco: FG Seeks N130bn Damages against Swiss Firm

From Funso Muraina and Awashima Ugaden in Abuja, 01.15.2008

The Federal Government yesterday sought a N130 billion damages from a tobacco firm, Philip Morris International for selling tobacco related products to under aged persons.

It has also accused the company of evading court service in the suit it filed against British American Tobacco Nigerial Limited and four other companies over the production and marketing of tobacco products in the country.

The Federal Government through its counsel, Joseph Daudu SAN, told Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako that he has made attempts to serve Phillip Morris International who are the 5th defendant in the suit but have not been successful.

He said the company refused to accept the court processes from the courier company that took the envelope containing the processes to them. Daudu said, “I was told that the 5th defendant in this case has not been served with the processes in this case.

“The courier company we sent came back and told us that they (Philip Morris) refused to accept the envelope containing the processes from them. We are hopeful that by the next adjourned date all parties in the case would have been served. He asked the court for a date to enable him effect service on all the defendants in the case. Other defendants in the suit are British American Tobacco Limited, British American Tobacco Company PLC and British American Tobacco Investment Limited.

Before the case was adjourned to the 17th of March by Justice Nyako, counsel to British American Tobacco Investment Limited, Mrs.

Funke Adekoya told the court that he was filing a preliminary objection to the suit. In the main suit, the Federal Government approached the court for an order compelling the defendants in the suit to cease the marketing, promotion, distribution, and sale of tobacco related products to minors and under aged persons.

They also asked for an order of mandatory injunction restraning the defendants from representing or portraying to minors or persons under the age of 18,any alluring or misleading image regarding tobacco related product whether by direct depictions,pictorial, advertorials, images, words messages,sponsorship, branding and or through overt or covert and or subliminal means. The Nigeria Tobacco Alliance organized a rally at the court yesterday in support of the step taken by the Federal Government against the tobacco companies. The Program Manager of the Alliance , Mr. Adeola Akinremisaid, “we are supporting the Federal Government’s suit against the tobacco industry because what BAT cannot do in Britain must not allowed be allowed inNigeria”. “It is illegal to sell minors in the United Kingdom ,so why are they doing it here. It is illegal to sell cigarette in unit in the UK, so why are they doing that here”. In the statement of claim, the Federal Government asked for the following declarations notably a declaration of this honourable court that the tobacco related product are manufactured, marketed,promoted, distributed and sold by the defendants are additive; a declaration of this honourable court that the tobacco related product as manufactured, marketed,promoted, distributed, promoted and sold by the defendants are harzadous and injurious to the public health; a declaration of this honourable court that the defendants’ conduct as specified herein in the complaint/statement of claim in relation to its misrepresentation and concealment of material facts and other such acts, are reprehensible. They want the defendants to pay N1346,250,421,627.39as special damages occasioned by their conduct They also want the defendants to pay 130 billion for wrongful conduct.