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Following a public outcry by founder of L&N restaurant, Layla Othman, in Abuja, over the closure of her food outlet by Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has debunked her claim.
Othman had accused AMAC of closing her restaurant while her guests were still inside, demanding she provide a 'food handlers' form, which she said wasn't at the branch AMAC officials visited, but at her Restaurant's main branch.
While narrating her story, Othman said the AMAC officials were inpatient for her to send the food handlers paper to the branch, requesting she paid NGN250,000 inorder not to have her restaurant shut. The financial demand baffled her as she had the papers needed.
The officials went ahead to lock her restaurant while customers were in, Othman claimed. She said officials in Abuja often frustrate businesses with bizarre demands. However, in their response to Othman's claim, FCTA said the money demanded was a fine ordered by court.
While FCTA admitted shutting the restaurant, the government also said a court summons was granted against Othman and other business operators on September 4, 2020, but the court order was ignored, hence the visit to her restaurant.
According to FCTA, the business operators were accused of acting contrary to the food stuff and regulated premises bye-law. FCTA claimed Othman's restaurant failed to prove that their staff have conducted the food handlers test as required by law.
While explaining the situation that surrounded Othman's outburst, FCTA in a statement said, "One Layla Othman had in a viral video accused FCTA & @AmacLg officials of illegally sealing up her L&N restaurant in Abuja. She had alleged that the officials locked her customers inside one of her outlets in Gwarinpa.
"The FCT Administration stepped in to investigate and resolve the matter. Findings revealed that the restaurant was sealed by court officials after the owner flouted a court order.
"According to Mr. Obinatu Remigius, head of environmental and occupational health division of the FCTA, the action followed the failure of the management of the restaurant to prove that their staff have conducted the food handlers test as required by law.
"He said following a September 4 court summons, the business operators were directed to appear before an Abuja magistrate’s court after being accused of acting contrary to the food stuff and regulated premises bye-law.
"The summons followed an earlier letter from FCTA health division, notifying the restaurant of the provision of the law which stipulates that all food handlers in the establishment should be screened before commencement and subsequently every six months.
"He explained that the court was forced to seal the restaurant after the staff ignored the health officials. The people that went for the sealing were court officials, noting that AMAC & FCTA public health staff were there only to observe & provide information if required.
"He further explained that the N250,000 fine was imposed by the court for the violations, adding that the money is to be paid to the court and not FCTA or AMAC.
"The CEO of the restaurant has, in another video, apologised to FCTA, AMAC & the general public over her earlier video in which she accused the officials of illegally sealing up her restaurant. She said it was one of her staff who received the court summons & failed to inform her."