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A Nigerian Court has ordered the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control to direct the Nigeria Bottling Company Plc., manufacturers of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks, to include a warning on the bottles of the product, that its content cannot be taken with Vitamin C.
Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, gave the order following a suit filed by a businessman, Fijabi Adebo, and his firm, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Ltd.
The legal action, which was instituted in 2008, had NBC and NAFDAC as defendants.
Mr. Fijabi's lawyer, Abiodun Onidare, told the court that his client bought large quantities of different products from NBC for export to the UK but when they arrived at their destination, Fanta and Sprite failed UK Health Authorities' (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council's Trading Standards Department of Environment and Economy Directorate) sample test for human consumption, as they became poisonous when mixed with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
The claimants demanded N15.1 million (USD48000) as special damages and N1.6 million (USD5039) being the money the NBC admitted it received from the claimants.
In its defense, the NBC, through its lawyer, T. O. Busari, said it was not negligent as claimed by the plaintiff, saying it has stringent quality control procedures to ensure that its products are safe for end-user consumption. The NBC argued that the levels of the chemical components in its soft drinks are safe for consumption in Nigeria and that the claimants are not entitled to the recovery of damages arising from their illegal exportation of products meant for local distribution.
NAFDAC did not file any defense in the case.
Justice Oyebanji ruled that the knowledge of the Nigeria Bottling Company that the products were to be exported was immaterial to its being fit for human consumption.
"The court is in absolute agreement with the learned counsel for the claimants that soft drinks manufactured by Nigeria Bottling Company ought to be fit for human consumption irrespective of colour or creed," he said.
"It is manifest that NAFDAC has been grossly irresponsible in its regulatory duties to the consumers of Fanta and Sprite manufactured by Nigeria Bottling Company."
The judge said NAFDAC had failed Nigerians by its certification as satisfactory for human consumption, products which in the United Kingdom failed sample test for human consumption and which become poisonous in the presence of Ascorbic Acid ordinarily known as Vitamin C, which can be freely taken by the unsuspecting public with the company's Fanta or Sprite.
"The court, in the light of the damning evidence before it showing that NAFDAC has failed to live up to expectations, cannot close its eyes to the grievous implication of allowing the status quo to continue as it is," the judge said.
He ruled that, "That NAFDAC shall forthwith mandate Nigeria Bottling Company to, within 90 days hereof, include on all the bottles of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks manufactured by the company, a written warning that the content of the said bottles of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks cannot be taken with Vitamin C as same becomes poisonous if taken with Vitamin C.
"In consideration of the fact that this case was filed in 2008 and that it has been in court for nine years, costs of N2 million is awarded against NAFDAC. Interest shall be paid on the costs awarded at the rate of 10% per annum until liquidation of the said sum."
Source: Premium Times
The contemptuous label of “cyber-criminals” is the figurative sword with which the Nigerian image is generally being hacked and left for dead. According to Professor Biko Agozino of Virginia Tech university,
“there is a long standing demonisation of Nigeria as being full of criminals.”
This unfortunate generalisation, especially in the media, has a far-reaching negative impact on the overall image of Nigeria as a nation. It’s become the prism with which most Nigerians are viewed and judged globally.
It stems from the country’s vulnerability in a specific category of cybercrime known as ‘419’ and its offshoots. Dr Mohamed Chawki, President of the International Association of Cybercrime Prevention, explains that the term 419
is coined from section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with fraud. Nowadays, the axiom ‘419’ generally refers to a complex list of offences which in ordinary parlance are related to stealing, cheating, falsification, impersonation, counterfeiting, forgery and fraudulent representation of facts.
The most widely known component of ‘419’ is cyber fraud - the culprit behind the blanket labelling of most Nigerians as cyber-criminals.
But cybercrime in essence encompasses a wide range of crimes other than cyber fraud. These online crimes include cyber stalking, cyber hate speech, cyber espionage, cyber terrorism, cyber colonialism, revenge porn and cyber bullying among others. Nigeria is exclusively implicated in cyber fraud. The country has no significant record of other forms of cyber crimes such as cyber espionage, cyber stalking and revenge porn found predominantly in Western nations.
The key point here is that the term ‘cybercrime’ is misleading which is why it’s reasonable to call into question Nigeria’s reputation. It’s an image nonetheless buttressed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its Internet Crime Complaint Centre which has ranked Nigeria third in the world behind the US and UK.
But the FBI centre’s claims are problematic because in Nigeria cybercrime is exclusively cyber fraud (or scam). What constitutes ‘cybercrime’ in most Western nations differs from the particularities of cybercrime in Nigeria. They differ possibly because jurisdictional cultures and nuances apply online as they do offline.
Crime primarily driven by economic benefit
Money is undoubtedly a primary motivation for online fraud. The primary benefit of a Nigerian swindler is financial. That the problem is propelled by monetary pursuits is well illustrated in the examination of 150 scam letters by professor Afe Adogame of Princeton University.
Corruption among some government officers and some high profiled politicians also plays a role. Corrupt practices promote cyber criminal activities.
Another contributory factor is the link between e-waste and online fraud. E-waste refers to discarded electronic appliances such as mobile phones and computers. The dumping of e-waste from countries such the UK and the USA is common in Nigeria and Ghana and there’s a strong correlation between dumping and the physical locations of online fraud victims.
The statistics are selective
Why is Nigeria ranked the third worst nation for cybercrime perpetrators?
The FBI-run Internet Crime Complaint Centre was established in May 2000 to limit economic losses through internet crime. It acts primarily by reviewing victims’ complaints. These number about 300,000 a year.
The centre’s data looks robust because they are drawn directly from victims. But this is deceptive. Of particular concern is the fact that complaints are exclusively framed by victims. This highlights the centre’s over-reliance on participants’ honesty and accuracy. The data’s probity is also undermined by the fact that only a small percentage of people voluntarily report themselves as victims of cybercrime. Even the FBI has previously noted that globally less than 10% of people report themselves as victims of cybercrime.
Apart from cybercrime being under-reported, the vast bulk of cybercrime goes undetected. For example, people who see themselves as victims of law enforcement are unlikely to flag their predicament to the FBI.
Finally, it’s impossible to tell the extent to which the entire process is shaped by the media and political discourses which tend to amplify the moral panic about Nigerian 419 fraud. Based on these underlining factors it’s reasonable to argue that the cybercrime league table is a simplified, limited and an incomplete representation. The claim that Nigeria is ranked third globally is therefore questionable.
Beyond the league tables
Over 90% of crimes reported to the complaints centre between 2006 and 2010 were primarily about cyber-fraud. Under this specific category Nigeria was found to be the third most cited nation. But what if categories such as cyber espionage and cyber bullying were covered? Would the outcome be different?
A different approach might be useful. One such approach is the Tripartite Cybercrime Framework which I recently proposed. This framework helps to simplify league table claims into a nuanced umbrella which includes categories such as, for example, socio-economic cybercrime and geopolitical cybercrime.
If the complaints centre’s reports were viewed through this lens, the results could be interpreted differently. This would, for example, lead to Nigeria being ranked third in the socio-economic category. And naturally in the geopolitical category Nigeria would be ranked much lower. It would also have positive impacts on efforts of law enforcement agencies in Nigeria such as the Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC in controlling the activities of cyber criminals.
It’s of utmost importance for the term “cybercrime” to be revisited and re-defined because it has huge consequences. It has, for example, influenced the framing of most scholarly endeavours about Nigeria which echo the sense of ‘moral panic’ over the ‘419’ phenomenon. It also affects how Nigeria is portrayed in the western media and how it’s viewed in the world.
Given that repeating discourses normalise their claim, the problem is deep.