Wednesday, 08 August 2007
Kano-Nigeria Versus Pfizer Pharmaceuticals; An Update
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Since the publication of my previous article on the illegal, unapproved and unethical clinical trials by Pfizer, in which Pfizer inflicted 11 deaths, injuries and sundry disfigurements upon innocent Nigerian children in Kano; there have been new developments - developments in which Pfizer is seeking, essentially, to have it, both ways!
Among these recent developments are, the informed withdrawal and re-filing, with amendments to the law suit filed by representative of Nigerian victims of Pfizer’s illegal actions. The amendments enables the originators of the litigation to adjust and re-emphasize, and it does emphasizes, the gravity and most egregious nature of the illegal and unethical activities that were conducted by Pfizer upon helpless, sick, innocent and hapless Nigerian children. Pfizer’s murderous illegalities resulted in the death of 11 of our children.
Furthermore, Pfizer has recently moved a motion or filed an application in which Pfizer has argued, urged and asked a Nigerian court to quash or dismiss the pending litigation against Pfizer arguing that Pfizer is an American company, over which a Nigerian court may not exercise any jurisdiction.
Subsequent substantive hearings in these court proceedings, have been scheduled and reschedule, some others have been adjourned, certain parts are adjourned, up until October 2007. There are criminal and civil legal cases that have been filed against Pfizer. These cases are currently proceeding simultaneously and some portions, pending or making some progress. These cases against Pfizer were brought by Kano State and the Nigerian Federal Government of Nigeria. Nigeria is expected to prevail in the quest for compensation verdict or judgments against Pfizer to benefit the victims of Pfizer’s illegalities that resulted in death, maiming and sundry disfigurements of Nigerian children
At this stage though, the applications or motions by Pfizer is very significant; this is so, in view of the fact the fact that Pfizer had previously deployed this tactic in New York successfully. Pfizer had a couple of years ago, argued that an American court in New York, did not possess the requisite jurisdictional predicate to enable the American court to permit the parties (the Nigerian victims/plaintiffs with their legal representatives on the one hand, and Pfizer the offending defendant on the other) to litigate or canvass issues of law and fact before the American court, sitting in New York.
The said American court accordingly, ruled in favor of Pfizer, albeit, while asserting that Nigeria was the proper forum and venue to litigation the consequences and Pfizer’s liabilities which arose from Pfizer’s frauds and criminal acts in Nigeria. The American court in New York dismissed the suit initiated by the Nigerian victims of Pfizer’s illegal, unapproved, untested and profit motivated inhumane clinical trials, using innocent Nigerian children in a guinea pig-like medical or pharmacological experiments. That judgment in essence, was that Nigeria is the proper venue or forum, as the activities or events being litigated occurred, transpired or took place in Nigeria. This is being appealed.
Pfizer has in Nigeria, now resuscitated its old winning argument used successfully before a New York court. Pfizer is now using the same arguments before a court in Nigeria. Pfizer has in effect, literarily, regurgitated its jurisdictional predicate defense; A defense that Pfizer had similarly adduced before an American court in the very recent past.
Pfizer is now invoking this same defense to vitiate and deflects its responsibilities to compensate Nigerian victims of Pfizer medical misadventures.
Jeanne Lenzer, an American journalist, and prolific writer on medical and pharmaceutical matters, sent an e-mail to me last week in reaction to Pfizer’s spurious defense in courts, both in America and Nigeria. Jeanne Lenzer titled her e-mail to me, “incredible, rage and fury!” She did so upon learning of the new developments in the cases in Nigeria.
She and I, have had previous conversations about these cases in Nigeria brought against Pfizer and what appears to be Pfizer’s tone-deaf attitude, since the inception of these cases
Jeanne Lenzer’s words, describes and aptly encapsulates my feelings exactly. It is incredible, it is outrageous! Pfizer’s actions and current attitude, has caused all reasonable persons to be irate at Pfizer for the killings of innocent Nigerian children, only to want to dodge compensations for victims, in Pfizer’s current desperate tactics.
Pfizer is incredulously, amazingly casual and cavalier, over its actions which led to the death of Nigerian children. Pfizer has demonstrated extreme depravities by, first conducting illegal clinical trials in Kano, with Trovan, an untested and unapproved drug. A drug which American regulatory agency, the Foods and Drugs Administration, specifically forbade use on children. Despite Pfizer’s knowing infliction of injuries and death on Nigerian children; Pfizer continues to be evasive, as it denies responsibilities and clear liability. Pfizer has a duty to compensate the Nigerian victims of its illegal actions in Kano
Pfizer’s atrocious clinical trials in Nigeria, are reminiscent of the infamous Tuskegee experiment on African Americans as human guinea pigs, Tuskegee experiment was illegal and it violated local, state and federal laws. An experiment in which, victims who were exposed Syphilis, were deliberately left untreated.
Similarly, Pfizer’s willfully and knowingly, violated American and Nigerian laws, when Pfizer proceeded to inflict injuries and death on Nigerian children with the use Trovan on children in Kano. Pfizer violated well-established international clinical trial protocols. Pfizer engaged in flagrant violations of laws and engaged in unethical practices. Pfizer, in complete disregard for common sense and human decency.
Clearly, Pfizer does not put any value or any worth, on the lives of Nigerian children! Hence Pfizer knowingly caused the death of 11 innocent Nigerian children in Kano as Pfizer maimed and injured many other children. All these, as a result, and due to Pfizer’s greed for profits or money at the expense of human lives in Nigeria. Pfizer’s attitude to the Nigerian children, should therefore be seen for what it is, extremely obnoxious.
I am irate at Pfizer for its offensive attitude in connection with the murderous killings of innocent Nigerian children in Kano. Pfizer has shown no remorse. Pfizer’s rotten attitude and its devaluation of the Nigerian lives informed and influenced its warped and twisted clinical trials in Kano, which was replete with illegalities and sundry ethical violations.
Pfizer has not demonstrated a scintilla of regret, over the unwarranted deaths, maiming and disfigurements caused by Pfizer to Nigerian children in Kano.
There ought to be public outrage against Pfizer. One has to wonder why there is no fury and umbrage in Nigeria directed at Pfizer. Where is the Nigerian Media/Press? Where are the Nigerian medical and pharmaceutical professionals/workers?
What would it take to enlighten and inform the Nigerian public of Pfizer’s actions, including its current attempt to avoid accountability for Pfizer’s killing of innocent Nigerian children?
Nigerians must NOT allow Pfizer to get away from the atrocities, which Pfizer committed in Kano. Nigerians must not allow Pfizer to benefit from its ability to speak from both sides of its mouth. Pfizer must not be allowed to get away with its multiple murderous killings of 11 innocent Nigerian children. We know that Pfizer is humongous multinational pharmaceutical corporation, a behemoth; but Pfizer is not above the law, rules, ethics and other well established clinical trials, protocols. Pfizer violated all these, in its actions in Kano Nigeria.
Even now, Pfizer is seeking to defeat its victims in Nigeria. Pfizer seeks to defeat the Nigerian victims of its illegal and ethical acts in Kano. It is clear that Pfizer put profits, money and greed above human lives in Nigeria. And out of greed, Pfizer is attempting to truncate the compensation cases that have arisen from Pfizer’s atrocities; Pfizer used an argument of absence or lack of jurisdiction over Pfizer itself, as defense in America, and now, as well in Nigeria.
If Pfizer succeeds in Nigeria, with its current argument of “absence or lack of jurisdiction” it would have eluded sanctions and accountability in America and Nigeria. Pfizer would have in effect established that it is above the laws in two continents, that Pfizer is above the law, period. And no one can hold them to account, that must not be allowed to happen
On a related note, matters of jurisdictional predicate, and exercising such, over Nigerians and Nigerian entities, have been litigated in the most recent past and in an equally high profile case. A civil case initiated by some Nigerians, such as Chief Anthony Enahoro and the Abiolas etc. Certainly, must have heard or subsequently become aware of the fact that two American court in Detroit, Michigan and later, another court in Chicago, Illinois assumed jurisdiction over General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state of Nigeria, as he was sued a couple of years ago, for human rights violations by parties already mentioned.
Nigerian former leader has faced civil legal action in Detroit and Chicago respectively, in the United States. Abubakar lawyers argued absence or lack of jurisdiction of an American court over the former Nigerian leader, unsuccessfully. This, despite the fact that a Nigerian head of state has political immunity, and enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Such political and diplomatic immunity or protections from legal encumbrances or impediments, which may arise from actions undertaken in such leader’s official capacity, while acting as a head of state. A former Nigerian head of state, ought to be afforded, bestowed or be able to enjoy full diplomatic immunity and protections. And persons of General Abubakar’s stature, caliber and high political profile, is so entitled.
Besides, all these have happened, even though Nigeria is a friendly nation with America, with full cordial economic, trade and diplomatic relations
Regardless of these age-old established traditions and conventions, treaties and immutable usual practices of diplomatic finesse; two American courts, in Detroit, and then, Chicago, assumed jurisdiction over our former political leader, all, to our national chagrin. Perhaps to enable political propaganda at the expense of Nigeria?
Why then, as it appears, all of a sudden, an American court, removed itself, from considering the serious and very grave charges proffered against Pfizer in New York, over Pfizer’s illegal and unethical clinical trials in Kano Nigeria which resulted in 11 deaths and injuries to many Nigerian children.
Why then would an American suddenly lack or refuse to exercise jurisdiction over an entity that is, for all intent and purposes, both American and Nigerian? An entity that is actively engaged in business activities in Nigeria, with consequences touching Nigerians directly, including the aforementioned 11 deaths in Kano that resulted from Pfizer’s acts?
Could this sudden shift of the goal post in the middle of an important tournament, be as a result the economic consequences that would be visited on an American wrongdoer corporation as Nigerians succeeds in making Pfizer account illegalities committed in Nigeria?
Could it be because an American company is about to be exposed in Nigerian courts and compelled to pay for its horribly brutal actions? Could it be because of the consequent liability and great economic loss which Pfizer must suffer, liability which Pfizer endure as a result of verdicts and judgments that will arise in favor of Nigerian victims?
Nigerian victims of Pfizer’s ignominious acts in Kano, have rightly asked and demanded compensation from Pfizer. Pfizer perpetrated acts of horrors against countless innocent Nigerian children and these children’s who are compelled to haplessly grapple and tackle with the after-effects of Pfizer’s illegal, unethical and depraved clinical trials in Kano City.
Pfizer and other corporations operating in Nigeria, must be informed that they are not above the laws. They must learn to respect the laws and lives in Nigeria