Justice Ambrose Lweis-Allagoa of a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has dismissed the suit filed by Rite Foods Limited against the Nigerian Bottling Company, NBC, and its Managing Director, Matthieu Seguin, over alleged contempt of court.
The trial judge held that there was no subsisting order disobeyed by the alleged contemnor (respondents)
While ruling on committal proceeding yesterday, the court dismissed the plaintiff (Rite Food Limited) application, saying it lacks in merit.
The court held that his learned brother Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke had discharge the order made on September 27, 2021.
The judge upheld the argument canvassed by the respondents (NBC and its MD) counsel, Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, that since the said order has been lifted, the court cannot punish an alleged contemnor for any breach.
Justice Lweis-Allagoa said this court cannot vacate existing order. The motion filed by the plaintiff is qualified as nullity. A foundation of any committal proceeding is for a valid judgment, where there is no valid Judgment, it cannot be used.
“Committal proceeding can only exist haven been that the order is still enforceable. The motion dated October 15 and October 18 filed by respondents has merit. I hereby set aside the committal proceedings in its entirety including all processes.”
The judge therefore dismissed the contempt suit filed by the Rite Food Limited. The court also awarded punitive cost of 500,000-naira each in favour of respondents. (N500,000.00 each to NBC and it’s MD).
At the last proceedings, counsel to NBC and it’s MD, Oluseye Opasanya (SAN) and Ngo Matins Okonma respectively told court to set aside the committal proceeding in its entirety including all processes used by plaintiff in the proceedings
They argued that the contempt order has been discharge, as they submitted that since the said order has been lifted, the court cannot punish an alleged contemnor for any breach.
It would be recalled that Rite Foods had on February 9, 2021 through an Exparte application asked the court for an order restraining NBC from further promoting its Predator Energy drink in Nigerian market.
The NBC had said that there has been no trademark violation or passing off with its Predator Energy drink and maintains that the Predator brand logo had been in existence and in use in many markets even prior to the launch of Fearless by Rite Foods in the Nigerian market.