A popular Lagos plastic surgeon, Anuoluwapo Adepoju, was on Friday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged evasion from an investigation into a failed plastic surgery.
Ms Adepoju was charged for alleged failure to comply with FCCPC’s requirements to appear and provide information relevant to an ongoing investigation.
The prosecution was led by the CEO of Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera.
Ms Adepoju, alongside her hospital, Med Contour Services Limited, was arraigned for allegedly obstructing the investigation by FCCPC into the case.
She is standing trial before Justice Mohammed Liman.
The FCCPC had in April, sealed the second defendant (Med Contour), a plastic surgery hospital, over suspicion of illegal activities.
In the same month, FCCPC also revealed on its official Twitter handle that it has commenced an investigation into a case of failed plastic surgery performed by the cosmetic surgeon.
In a five-count charge brought against the defendants on Friday, the prosecution alleged that without sufficient cause, the first defendant failed to appear before the FCCPC in compliance with the commissions’ summons dated April 15.
The prosecution alleged that without sufficient cause, “the first defendant refused and failed to produce a document which she was required to produce in compliance with the commission’s notice of investigation dated April 14”.
The defendant was also alleged to have prevented and obstructed the commission from carrying out its investigation into the said issue.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 11(1)(a), 33(1)(a), 110, 113(1)(a) and 159(4) of the FCCPC Act, 2018.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to all counts.
After her plea, defence counsel, Maria Jonnes, informed the court of a preliminary objection challenging the charge.
She had argued that the law setting up the FCCPC does not empower the court to entertain the case filed by the commission, adding that the defence had already filed a pending suit before a brother judge, Justice C. Aneke challenging the Act of the commission.
In response, the prosecutor, who is Director-General of the FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, argued that there was no legal basis for the preliminary objection of the defense.
According to him, the subject before the court is not on the issue of a violation, and so, there is nothing in the preliminary objection that can stand.
He also submitted that the objection that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case is ‘misinformed’.
In a six-paragraph affidavit of completion of investigation attached to the charge sheet, the commission said it received complaints against Ms Adepoju from one Marlene Oluwakemi, Taiwo Temilade and Vivian Onwuzuligbo that the surgeon’s services “are unsafe for consumers,” and that she made “false, misleading and deceptive representation in relation to the marketing of their services.”
It said, “In particular, the above-mentioned Vivian Onwuzuligbo, a member of the Mrs Nnneka Miriam Barbara Onwuzuligbo (now deceased) alleged that the deceased died as a result of the failed defendants’ cosmetic surgery and she is privy to the events that led to the demise of the deceased.”
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Ms Irukera said the incidents happened between April 15 and May 4, 2020, at No. 11a Ladi Alakija Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
He said Ms Adepoju acted contrary to sections 33(3)(a) and 113(4)(a) of the FCCPC Act 2018 and was liable to be punished under sections 33(3) and 113(1) of the same Act, among others.
After listening to the submission of parties, Justice Liman upheld the submission of the prosecution. He also held that the criminal jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is activated by the provisions of sections 251(f) of the Constitution.
The court held that subsection 1(f) of the section, includes organisations like the Consumer Protection Council as well as the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON)
Justice Liman granted the defendant bail on self recognisance and adjourned the case until July 9 for trial.