NIGERIA IS SUING TOBACCO COMPANIES $40 BILLION SUIT

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Considering how often Aondoakaa and Yardy are criticized on this blog, I am excited to report that the Federal Government is suing 3 major tobacco companies. The suit is for $40 billion in compensatory damages and alleges that cigarettes cause harm to Nigerians.

This is not only a first for Nigeria, it is a first for the African continent. “It is the first time ever that an African state files a case against a tobacco company. No other state in Africa has ever done it,” said Babatunde Irukera, the lawyer representing the Nigerian government. Four states, Lagos, Gombe, Oyo and Kano State have also filed suit against tobacco companies, while three more states are preparing to sue as well.

It appears that there is a growing awareness of the danger of tobacco products. Various organizations and official entities are beginning to campaign for better public health by discouraging smoking. The Federal government is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and in observance it instituted an anti-smoking campaign that is featured on radio stations across the country. In 2006, Lagos State
recorded more than nine thousand cases of tobacco-related diseases at its hospitals. The state has spent over N2.7 billion treating these cases over the course of just one year. Considering this information, it is no surprise that Lagos State, and the federal Government, seeks compensation from tobacco companies.

It is about time that our public officials actually serve the people and their interest. I am happy to learn that public officials are working with small local organizations to improve public health and Nigerian life expectancy. I am hopeful that this and other positive acts on the part of various Local, State and Federal officials is sign of better things to come for Nigeria. Hopefully, other African countries and developing nations from other parts of the world will also take an active step in reducing the deadly impact of cigarettes.


For another take on this very important issue, please visit Akin Aworan's blog. He cuts right to the chase on this one...

Further Reading:
- Selling Cigarettes to Nigeria's Children

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stuck in my throat o said...

Wow!!what a welcome to dropping a comment, but it is your space, so go on...
On the Law suit,Abag abeg abeg..wetin?let us sue oil companies as well for depleting our lands...we gave the the tobacco companies our land...

akin said...

Funny you should put this up.. i put something similar on my blog about it yesterday. I sincerely hope that they do the right thing IF they win...

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ stuck: I think I will change that, it went up during a period of slight annoyance! lol! Your point is well made. A suit against oil companies would be incredible considering the environmental impact petrol has made in many Delta communities.

Unfortunately, I don't think that will happen. One, black gold is our main bread and butter. Second, and most important, a suit might get thrown out of court because the government has historically been lax in enforcing or even passing laws that protect the environment and prevent the destruction oil has on our land. Well, at least I am yet to come across any laws that require safer practices.

Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation!

@ Akin: Okay, let me go to your blog and link it to this article, so people can read another point of view. It would be incredible if they won, and considering the precedent set in cases brought by consumers in America and Europe, they probably could, you know. I wish them luck. This is a good thing that they are doing.

Jinta said...

The cynic in me cant stop screaming: What would they do with the money if they won?

Misan said...

same here Jinta. but the (sad) truth is they won't.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Jinta: Haha, that is exactly the issue Akin Aworan discussed at his blog. I will summarize my opinion that I left at his blog - It is fair for us to question what will happen with damages if any are recovered. However, the great thing about such a suit is that if the government wins, this suit will open the door for Nigerian customers to sue as individuals or as a class (class action suit). I can only hope that what with the changes happening in the country, the Federal Government would use any damages recovered to help the health system deal with the consequences of tobacco.

@ Misan: I need some clarification. You don't think the government will win, or you don't think the government will use the money for the benefit of sick people (as in it will be pilfered)?

Beauty said...

During the wasted OBJ years where the buzz was about debt forgiveness and investments, our cries were about corrupt practices and the same is true with these grand plans. 1st stop and reflect on the root causes of our problems. Until we get rid of these daft and cluless hippos on rampage we can continue to dream about pie in the sky.

Nigeria is not a poor country and until we stop going after small change and trying to get rich quick, we will remain poor to all. Raising cash is not brainware, it is what to do with the pile of cash that is genius. How about a $10Billion/per country corruption levey on all the state sponsored corporations in our country?

Going after the major tobacco companies for topence that will get tied up in court for decades does sound like playing the ambitious card and mirrors the half baked Central Bank of Nigeria strategic agenda for the Naira in August 2007. It is still about corruption and exposing these common theives for what they are.

Misan said...

Hehe, you should know by now that i don't have THAT much faith in my beloved nigerian government. I meant, that i don't think they will win. From a US judicial pov, case doesnt seem strong enough to stick. I've seen tobacco companies wiggle out of more airtight cases than this. and it won't help that the judge/jury will be asking themselves the same question as Jinta, will it?!

Obinwanne said...

its my b'day today as i mentioned in my previous post, and my exams have started and its going smoothly and im happy for ur prayers.... ayway i just pumped im to demand a visit to my blog cos i deserve it, IT MY B'DAY IMAGINE.....SO I DESERVE IT 100%......lol....thanks for stopping by anyway...

guerreiranigeriana said...

...hmmmnnnn...interesting indeed...please keep us updated...i am curious to see how this will end up and what will happen with the money...

...while they are on the suing tip, they need to strengthen the laws and then sue the oil companies...i have a few others they should sue but i'll save that till they win this and i see what they do with the money...

...someone's comment above about obj intrigued me...i may have to blog and get folks' opinion about his time in office...hmmnnn...

Kiibaati said...

To my knowledge BATCO, a recent entrant after the demise of NTC, is the only manufacturer of tobacco in Nigeria and it accounts for less than 50% of market share (most of the cigarettes consumed is smuggled in).

Indeed, BATCO has tried to make capital of this, hence its "proudly Nigerian" rider.

I think it's rather ironic that Government is suing tobacco companies considering it actively lured them to come and invest in Nigeria with tax holidays and other incentives. After all, tobacco is still very legal. They stand a better chance suing Cadbury for causing diabetes!

pamelastitch said...

hmmm

If they win - what will happen to the money??

Confessions of a moody crab said...

Right! So we are letting the airline companies in Nigeria go scot-free despite the numerous planes crashes in recent years but we are suing tobacco companies that clearly advertise the harmfull effects of smoking?

People smoke by choice and most adverts clearly state that smoking is bad. The ariline companies on the other hand, advertise how efficient and safe their planes are, giving people false sense of security while leading them to their painful deaths on these automatic confines called planes.

What has the government done? Nothing! The families of the deceased have they been compensated? Yes, I know that no amount of money can equate for someones life but still...

*shakes head sadly*

Anonymous said...

The main question is this. What would the Nigerian Government do with the money, if it wins the legal suit? I think we all know what the answer is. The Government will simply embezzle the money and the people and facilities who would be most in need of the funds, would simply not get it.

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