The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on Friday re-arraigned a Lagos surgeon, Dr. Anuoluwapo Adepoju, before a Federal High Court over alleged evasion from investigation into a reported case of failed plastic surgery.
The defendant is charged alongside her clinic, MedContour Services Limited, on a five-count charge bordering on a refusal to honour an invitation for investigation and refusal to produce investigation document.
Adepoju was first arraigned on July 3 alongside her medical outfit before Justice Mohammed Liman in Lagos.
She had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on self recognisance.
On Friday, the prosecutor, Babatunde Irukera, who is the Director-General of FCCPC, informed the court that the commission filed an amended charge.
Irukera prayed the court to take the plea of the defendant afresh.
The amended five-count charge was read to the defendant and she still pleaded not guilty.
The prosecutor then told the court that he was ready to open trial in the case.
Citing statutory provisions of Sections 300(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, by way of preamble into its case, the prosecutor told the court that the instant case bordered on violation of the provisions of the law.
Describing the FCCPC as a regulatory agency which ensures that the public complies with the provisions of the law, he told the court that the regulatory process of the commission was addressed by the provisions of Sections 93(3) 103(1)(a) and 103(1)
According to Irukera, players in the industry have a duty to comply with the regulatory process and demands of the commission in accordance with the law.
He said the commission had invited the defendant for investigation but because she was not found, as the address given was misleading, the defendant was subsequently summoned by the commission.
Irukera said if the court would find a defendant guilty of such offences, the defendant might be liable to a term of imprisonment or fine or both.
On this premise, Irukera called the first witness for the prosecution, Suzzy Onwuka.
The witness introduced herself as a civil servant working in the FCCPC, adding that her duty included a resolution of customers’s complaints, surveillance and enforcement activities, monitoring of sales promotion, as well as other matters referred from the headquarters.
On her experience during investigation into the instant case, Onwuka told the court that sometime in March and April this year, the commission received complaints from people who reportedly suffered adversely from the activities of the defendants.
She said the defendants were also reported to have made false advertisement of their activities, adding that the FCCPC sprang into investigation of the activities of the defendants in its physical place of business, but discovered that the said address was false.
The witness said the commission later discovered the true address of MedContour and wrote to the surgeon, notifying her that the commission had began investigation into her activities, and requesting that she should provide document to the commission
She added that the said notice of investigation was issued on April 14 but since there was no compliance by the defendant, it was pasted on the facility of MedContour, the defendant’s place of business.
According to the witness, the commission also pasted a summons to the defendant on the same address, requesting that she should come to the commission but same was not honoured.
The prosecutor also tendered before the court a statement issued by the FCCPC on the said investigation, photographs taken, as well as a letter by the Nigerian Medial Association to the FCCPC as posted by the defendant in her Instagram account: Med_Contour.
The court also admitted as exhibits various letters and emails to the FCCPC as well as three bundles of complaint questionnaires.
The case has been adjourned until October 14 for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the FCCPC had in April sealed the medical outfit (MedContour), a plastic surgery hospital, over suspicions of illegal activities.
NAN reports that the FCCPC had also in April revealed on its official Twitter handle that it had commenced an investigation into a case of failed plastic surgery performed by the first defendant, Anuoluwapo, in her hospital.
In the five-count charge brought against the defendants, the prosecution alleged that without sufficient cause, the first defendant failed to appear before the FCCPC in compliance with the commission’s summons dated April 15.
The prosecution also alleged that without sufficient cause, the first defendant also refused and failed to produce document which she was required to produce in compliance with the commission’s notice of investigation dated April 14.
The defendant was alleged to have prevented and obstructed the commission from carrying out its investigation into the said issue.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of sections 11(1)(a), 33(1)(a), 110, 113(1)(a) and 159(4) of the FCCPC Act, 2018.