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Nigeria: Drug Company Officials Face Contempt of Court Charges

(Jan. 2, 2008) It was reported on December 25, 2007, that a judge in the Nigerian state of Kano ordered the arrest of high executives of the subsidiary in Nigeria of the United States drug company, Pfizer Inc., for failing to make a court appearance. The court ordered the arrest of the head of Pfizer in Nigeria, Ngozi Edozien, and of senior officials Lare Baale and Segun Donguro.

The company is being sued in connection with drug trials it conducted in 1996 on 200 children during a meningitis epidemic. The Nigerian government alleges "Pfizer conducted the trials illegally, without the full knowledge and consent of the government and the parents, causing the death of 11 children and injury to dozens of others." The federal government and Kano state have instituted separate claims; the federal government is claiming US$7 billion in damages while the state government is claiming over US$2 billion. The two governments have also pressed criminal charges against the company. (Nigerian Judge Detains Pfizer Officials, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 25, 2007.)