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Nigeria: Federal Government Sued for Exposing Group to HIV/AIDS

(Nov. 12, 2010) It was reported on November 4, 2010, that a group of individuals in Nigeria living with HIV/AIDS have instituted a civil action against the Nigerian federal government for importing defective condoms; it was the use of those condoms that allegedly caused the individuals to contract the virus (George Onah, HIV Victims Sue FG for $50bn, Ask Court to Stop Use of Condoms, VANGUARD (Nov. 4, 2010),
). In the case pending before the Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt Division, in Nigeria's Rivers State, the plaintiffs are seeking two remedies: US$50 billion in compensatory damages and an injunction against “all federal health agencies and others from further importation, distribution, advertising and the use of condoms for the purported prevention of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.” (id.). [It is unclear from the news item whether the plaintiffs are seeking a ban on importation of all condoms; it seems that they are seeking to have the federal government stop its campaign, which includes importing of condoms and posting of ads that they are safe.]

The counsel for the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), one of the federal government agencies named as defendants, has filed a preliminary objection, arguing that the suit should be rejected because plaintiffs failed to comply with a mandatory provision of the NAFDAC Act (id.). This provision requires that anyone seeking to sue NAFDAC give the agency a one-month grace period after serving a written notice of intention to commence suit, with the notice contents to include the cause of action, particulars of the claim, name and address of the aggrieved, and the relief sought (National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control Act, §27(1), 10 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, Cap. N1).

Other federal government bodies named as defendants include the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Agency for Control of AIDS, the Attorney General, and the Minister of Justice (Onah, supra). The presiding judge is said to have granted the defendants 77 days to file their objections to the suit, if any (id.)