A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday set aside the contempt proceedings instituted by Rite Food Limited against Nigerian Bottling Company and its Managing Director, Mr Mattieu Seguin, for alleged disobedience to a court order.
The court held that there was no subsisting order that was disobeyed by the respondents.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa held that Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke had on September 27, 2021, discharged and set aside the committal proceedings.
The judge, therefore, awarded punitive cost of N500,000 each in favour of NBC and against the plaintiff, Rite Food Limited.
In its ruling, the court set aside the order of committal proceeding in its entirety, including all processes used by the plaintiff in the proceedings.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa held that the court could not vacate an existing order.
“The motion filed by the plaintiff is qualified as a nullity. A foundation of any committal proceedings is for a valid judgment, where there is no valid judgment, it cannot be used.
“The motion dated October 15 and 18, filed by the respondents has merit. I hereby set aside in its entirety the committal proceedings, including all the processes,” the judge held.
At the last hearing of the suit, counsel to NBC, Mr Matins Okonma and that of the NBC’s managing director, Mr Oluseye Opasanya (SAN), had urged the court to set aside the committal proceedings as the ex parte order complained of had been discharged.
NBC had prayed the court to set aside the contempt suit and award punitive costs against Rite Foods if it finds no basis for the contempt proceedings.
Counsel to Rite Food, Mr Muyiwa Ogungbemiro, in his own counter affidavit sworn to by Francis Omoniyi, dated October 21,2021 and a written address to support their case, had asked the court to dismiss the contepmnors’ motion to set aside the committal proceedings.
Recall that Rite Food had dragged NBC and its managing director to court over alleged trademark infringement.
The claimant said it had been using and trading with the lion image since 2017, three years before the NBC’s Predator came into the market in 2020.
Rite Foods alleged that NBC has infringed on its trademark with its Predator energy drink, which has adopted a lion head in resemblance to the mark on its Fearless energy drinks brand.