As part of its contribution to the fight against COVID-19, Nigeria’s apex consumer protection agency, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), has warned that it would prosecute traders who charge exorbitant prizes for essential hygiene products as a result of the likely scarcity of these products consequent to restrictions placed on free movement across the country due to COVID-19.
Making this declaration, the commission in a press release titled “Price gouging, unreasonable arbitrary increases in prices of hygiene products and certain medications, panic-buying on account of Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns”, warned that it would explore all available legal means to prevent “profiteering and exploitation” of Nigerians by unscrupulous traders.
“The Commission is determined to ensure that suppliers and retailers do not manipulate supply to distort the market or promote high prices or engage in excessive pricing of relevant products. The Commission intends to enforce the law with respect to fair competition and consumer protection. We will deploy all available statutory tools to prevent profiteering and exploitation in this inauspicious season.
“The Commission urges suppliers, retailers, online shopping platforms, as well as individuals who buy to resell not to charge unreasonable or inflated prices. Violators will be criminally prosecuted where the evidence sufficiently supports same.
“The Commission also admonishes consumers to moderate the impulse to making unnecessary or excessive purchases in panic as this promotes gouging, and anxiety. In particular, recent purchases of Chloroquine raise questions of fairness both by suppliers/retailers, and consumers who are insistent on purchasing all available inventory, even when personal needs are inconsistent with that available inventory.
In conclusion, the Commission advised Nigerians to adhere to all preventive tips reeled out by government and health authorities such as staying at home, avoiding large gatherings such as social centers, markets/shops et al, and such hygienic practices like hand washing and the use of sanitizers.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is the apex consumer protection agency in Nigeria. The Commission was established by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Act (FCCPCA) (Cap. 25, Laws of The Federation 2004). The overall mandate of the Commission is to protect consumers by taking both preventive and remedial measures.
*** Iyke Nwabueze