Law News
Court nullifies ban on Abalaka’s HIV/AIDS vaccine

After 16 years, a Federal High Court in Makurdi, Benue State, has declared the ban placed by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration on the use of HIV/AIDS vaccine discovered by a surgeon, Jeremiah Abalaka, as illegal, null and void.

Justice Binta Nyako in a 32-page judgment obtained by journalists during a press briefing by Abalaka on Saturday in Abuja, however, held that the use of the vaccines must be at the discretion of the patient.

“The government lined up experts recently during Ebola outbreak. Everything and everyone that could contribute to the battle was brought on deck and Nigeria was the pride of the world and the people were proud of the government. HIV/AIDS is also related to Ebola as it is equally a death penalty on its victims. This should call for encouragement and not dampening of the spirit of persons who have made efforts to provide a remedy,” the Judge held.

The government had banned the use of the vaccines even when the Editor of an International Journal, “The Vaccine”, has praised his efforts.

Despite the victory, Abalaka said that he had not forgiven the former President for the ban placed on his vaccine.

He said, “For me, I think it is a matter of basis; you can forgive someone or ignore what the person has done. Obasanjo has not apologised to me? How does forgiveness for him come up? Even if you believe in God as I do, we confess our sins to God before God forgives us. God is Almighty; even when we do wrong, we go to God and seek forgiveness.

“Obasanjo has not apologised to me in anyway; so for me, the issue of forgiveness for Obasanjo is premature and out of place. I can ignore all he has done and that is the only option available to me.”

Abalaka and his hospital, Medicrest Specialist Hospital Limited, Gwagwalada, had dragged the Federal Government to court seeking a declaration that the July 20, 2000 ban or suspension of the use of HIV vaccine he discovered was illegal, null and void, because it violates his Patent No. RP 13567 dated July 22, 1999.

The President, Attorney-General of the Federation and the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control were joined as defendants in the suit.

He had told the court how he took blood from an infected person, treated it and re-injected it back into the person.

“That he did this on himself, using the blood of an infected person and after three months tested himself and he is negative,” the court held.

The surgeon had also informed the court that he had treated infected persons with their consent and quite a few reverted to negative.

According to him, even though he had informed the officials in the Federal Ministry of Health of his major breakthrough and sought their collaboration, they were not cooperative, but instead, set up a committee that wanted him to give them his patent.

Justice Nyako said, “The defendants have not justified their ban on the plaintiff’s vaccine before the honourable court…The defendants have not placed any evidence before the court to show that the plaintiff’s vaccine has any harmful side effects.

“The plaintiffs have proved their case and met all the requirements and conditions for the declaration and granting of perpetual injunction they seek. Because the plaintiff’s research and efforts were nipped in the bud and even by his admission, I cannot say that what he has discovered is safe and effective because further studies need to be carried out on it.”

The judge however held that since there was no evidence before the court that the guidelines for assessment of the drug/vaccine had been in place 15 years on and it did not appear that any was in the offing, “I find that the ban on the plaintiff’s vaccine was done arbitrarily and thus illegal, null and void.”

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