Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, yesterday threw out a suit filled by a group of 17 non-governmental organisations over permits issued by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) for Genetic Modified (GM) cotton and maize in the country in 2016.
Recall that the group led by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), asked the court to revoke the permits issued to Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited for the commercial release of BT Cotton (MON 15985).
Defendants in the suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/846/201) are: NBMA, the Minister of Environment, MOSANTO, NABDA, Minister of Agriculture, the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Delivering judgement yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice A.R. Mohammed, dismissed the action filed by HOMEF on Bt cotton approval for commercial release, on the ground that the action was statute barred and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it, saying the matter was instituted over a year after the cause of action, adding that the matter was not a fundamental rights issue as claimed by the plaintiff.
Speaking exclusively to our correspondent on the implication of the defendants victory in court, the director-general of NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, said it implies that Nigeria’s judicial system is effective and also shows that the Biosafety System is very sound. Ebegba urged Nigerians to have more confidence on what the agency can do to protect them from any adverse impact of modern agricultural biotechnology practice, adding that the judgement also shows that the agency adheres to the rule of law. In her remarks, an assistant director at NABDA, Dr Rose Gidado, said the victory was a milestone for biotech in Nigeria. She said: “This is a milestone. This means that Nigeria is ready to go ahead, to really adopt this technology and move forward to catch up with the remaining parts of the world; for Nigeria to be food secured. It means a lot to food security.”