The Federal High Court in Lagos has ruled that a plastic surgeon, Anuoluwapo Adepoju, has a case to answer in the death of her patient, Nneka Onwuzuluigbo, in February 2019.
The judge, Mohammed Liman, in a ruling on Thursday, therefore, ordered the Lagos-based medical practitioner to enter her defence in the case.
The Executive Vice-Chairman, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irueka, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
Mr Irukera said the court slated May 26 for Ms Adepoju to open her defence in the suit.
“The court ruled that the evidence so far presented and articulated by the prosecution, and admitted by the court satisfy the elements of the criminal charges pending against Dr. Anuoluwapo Adepoju and as such, a prima facie case had been established which requires an appropriate defense,” the FCCPC statement read.
Ms Adepoju was suspended by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) pending the outcome of her prosecution.
The FCCPC had in July 2020 arraigned Ms Adepoju and her hospital, Med Contour Services Ltd, for allegedly obstructing an investigation by its officers into the death of her patient.
In a five-count charge, the FCCPC accused the plastic surgeon of shunning its summons to appear and produce certain documents.
She had pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
On October 14, 2020, the FCCPC closed its case in court upon examination and cross-examination of the commission’s prosecution witnesses.
Subsequently, Ms Adepoju, through her defence lawyer, filed a no-case submission.
The defendant claimed that the prosecution had not made a prima facie case against her to warrant a defence.
Upon adoption and argument of the parties’ respective briefs and positions, the court reserved its decision, which it delivered on Thursday.
However, the court dismissed Ms Adepoju’s no-case submission.
The FCCPC said “although this judicial process has experienced significant delays, during which allegations and or evidence of isolated or continuing violations of extant regulatory decisions or judicial conditions have arisen, the commission remains committed to ensuring compliance to the fullest extent of the law.”
In November 2020, the MDCN suspended the Lagos surgeon for alleged unwholesome practices.
Ms Adepoju allegedly operated on the late Ms Onwuzuligbo, a 2013 winner of Face of Democracy Transformation in Nigeria, at a medical facility on December 31, 2018.
The news of her patient’s death first went viral in February 2019.