Pharmaceutical companies in Abuja have challenged the Abuja Municipal Area Council ( AMAC ) over alleged multiple taxation, levies and fees imposed on their members by the council.
They said that they can no longer attend to patients and dispense drugs because they now live in fear of threat by AMAC to seal off their stores and premises.
The pharmaceutical premises in Abuja is where the pharmacists mix, compound, manufacture, prepare, dispense and sell drugs and poisons.
They said that their premises are duly licensed by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria ( PCN ). There are about 150 registered pharmacies in Abuja.
AMAC had also been issuing demand notice to the pharmacists threatening to prosecute them if they should fail to pay the levy.
The pharmacists said that AMAC has been and is still using thugs and men of the Nigeria Police to force them to comply with the demand notices for payment of business premises levy by sealing up their premises.
They said that whenever they put up any resistance to the payment of business premises levy, AMAC usually forcibly seal-up their premises without an order of court. This they said has occasioned loss of goodwill and lowered the estimation of the pharmacy profession by the public.
Finally, AMAC dragged the Abuja pharmacists before the Senior Magistrate Court of FCT in Wuse zone 2 Case No. CR/AMAC/21 / 2015 alleging that the pharmacists defaulted to pay shop, kiosk rates and refused to obtain operational permit/licence issued by AMAC.
Abuja pharmacist in a swift reaction said that the AMAC Bye-Law No. 14 of 2012 that created the offence with which they were charged does not empower AMAC to prosecute the offence.
According to them, the prosecutors instrument was not signed by any person with prosecutorial powers and Mr. F. C. Uchendu Esq. Who is prosecuting the case derives no prosecutorial powers from the Police Act and neither is he an officer in the office of the Attorney General.
Already the civil case Suit No. FHC/ABJ /CS / 154/ 2006 between Bamak Pharmacy and Stores Ltd, Supa- Pharmaceuticals Ltd (for and on behalf of all pharmaceutical companies in Abuja Municipal Council) Vs. AMAC, came before the Federal High Court and it was struck out 13th July 2006 by Justice Çhikere.
Dissatisfied, the pharmacist appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja before finally approaching the Supreme Court, Abuja, where the case is still pending in Appeal No. SC 289/2010 between Bamak Pharmacy and Stores Ltd, Supa- Pharmaceuticals Ltd ( for and on behalf of all pharmaceutical companies in Abuja Municipal Council) Vs. AMAC.
Pharmacist Ike Sunday Okechuwu, chairman Abuja chapter of the Pharmacists, in a chat with our correspondent said they are in court because AMAC brought them to court, adding that before now, the two parties had a similar case in court waiting for judgment.
He expressed surprise that despite being at the Supreme Court, AMAC still brought them to the magistrate court with similar claims.
He mentioned that drugs are on the exclusive legislative and AMAC may not have power to legislate on them adding that the only body recognised by law to regulate all aspects of pharmaceutical practice is the PCN established by Decree 91 of 1992 now laws of the NASS.
He said that AMAC is the only LGA in Nigeria distracting pharmacists.
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