A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, heard that a defendant, Dr. Anuoluwapo Adepoju standing trial over alleged evasion from investigation, had promised to successfully enlarge the buttocks of patients who patronised her clinic.
A witness for the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Mrs Suzzy Onwuka, said this under cross examination in the ongoing trial of Adepoju, a Lagos surgeon, charged with alleged evasion from investigation into a reported case of failed plastic surgery.
The defendant is charged alongside her clinic, MedContour Services Ltd, on a five count charge bordering on a refusal to honour an invitation for investigation as well as production of investigation document.
She was re-arraigned on July 17, alongside her medical outfit, before Justice Mohammed Liman.
She had pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail on self recognizance.
At the last adjourned date, the witness (Onwuka), had began her testimony and had narrated before the court how the commission had failed in its attempts to secure the presence of the defendant for investigation into the allegations.
When trial resumed on Wednesday, an amended charge was read over to the defendant who again pleaded not guilty to all counts and trial continued.
The witness who had concluded her evidence in chief at the last date, was cross examined by defence counsel, Mrs Maria Jones, who asked the witness when the complaint was made against the defendant.
In response, the witness told the court that the complaint was filed against the defendant in April, although she could not remember the exact date.
When asked what false statement was made by the defendant that warranted this charge, the witness replied: “The defendant had guaranteed and assured her patients that she was going to enlarge their “butts” without side effects and that it was going to be a surgery that won’t affect their lives.”
When defence counsel asked the witness ‘what do you mean by butts’.
The witness replied, “I mean, the complaints received showed that the defendant had promised to enlarge the buttocks of her clients without side effects.”
She told the court that consumers of the defendant’s services, subsequently complained that her surgeries fell short of what she had guaranteed after they had patronised her.
On whether it is the duty of the FCCPC to investigate medical issues without recourse to the appropriate medical body, the witness replied:
“The FCCPC is concerned with consumer of products and services and so, if the commission gets a complaint from consumers of goods and services, it is empowered to investigate such complaint.”
On whether if the law setting up the commission allows it to demand for the document it requested from the defendant, the witness replied that the law allows it as far as it affects consumers.
When asked if the FCCPC carries on its activities on social media, the witness told the court that the commission has its lawful place of business even though it has presence on social media.
According to the witness, after invitations to the defendant to report to the Commission for investigation failed, the defendant was seen to have posted on her social media page that the Commission had no powers to investigate her.
The witness told the court that consumers of the defendant’s services are out there on social media and also saw her post, adding that although the Commission had written to the Nigerian Medical Association, they were yet to receive a response till date.
Defence counsel then questioned the witness on the defendant being detained at the State CID Panti for three days, and the commission didn’t give the defendant paper to make a statement before detaining her for three days.
The witness replied: ” I don’t know about that”.
According to the witness, the defendant failed to honour several invitations for investigation by the commison, even when she had the liberty to honour such invitation.
The witness also told the court that when the Commission eventually gained entrance into her medical premises, a call was placed across to her by her gateman, but she had refused to speak with the Commission.
When defence counsel asked the witness if a different law applied to the FCCPC in Nigeria, the prosecutor, Mr Abimbola Ojenike, raised objection on the grounds that the witness was not in a position to speak on such question.
The court upheld the objection of the prosecution.
The witness told the court that the defendant never showed up for investigation inspite of requests by the Commission, but rather, displayed on her social media page that the Commission had no right to investigate her.
On whether the Commission had worked during the COVID-19 lockdown, the witness replied, “Yes, we are essential services.”
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 offences contravenes the provisions of sections 11(1)(a), 33(1)(a), 110, 113(1)(a) and 159(4) of the FCCPC Act, 2018.
However, trial was adjourned till December 2, 2020.