On the 28th of February 2020, Social Media was abuzz with reports from a distressed user about the hike in the price of hand sanitizers, at over 300% of the original price, in the wake of the Corona Virus epidemic which a patient was recently diagnosed with in Nigeria.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the “Commission”) is the agency responsible for safeguarding the rights of consumers as empowered by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (“FCCPA”).
The Director General of the Commission, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, through a press statement, condemned the actions of retailers who were accused of price gouging and taking advantage of the desperation of Nigerians in finding measures to curtail the virus. He immediately took steps to put an end to this arbitrary increase in prices, thereby creating awareness in the minds of unknowing consumers about the protection accorded them and the recourses available in the event of an infraction.
Scope of the FCCPA
Generally, the FCCPA aims to promote and secure a competitive market in Nigeria, endorsing efficiency in the economy and disallowing restrictive and unfair business practices.
How are consumers protected?
Under the FCCPA, rights of consumers are clearly spelt out. A few of these rights are highlighted below;
Due Consideration of consumers’ interests
Where retailers engage in obnoxious practices or the exploitation of consumers, the Commission has the responsibility of ensuring that complaints received from consumers are provided adequate attention and redress. In other words, as in cases of arbitrary price hikes, it is the duty of the Commission to investigate and provide remedies for complainants.
Right to disclosure of price of goods or services
Specifically, the FCCPA requires that the price of goods or products and services must be distinctly and clearly stated (by manufacturers, distributors or retailers) in a position where consumers can easily identify them. Prices must be displayed in the currency of Nigeria (N) in a conspicuous location close to the product or in a brochure or catalogue available to the consumer.
Product labelling and descriptions
Products must be accurately labelled and described to the consumers ensuring they are not misled. Product labelling refers to any written description about the product which is either placed close to the product, any advertisement made in connection to the product and any label attached to the product.
Suppliers, Producers and Manufacturers must take note of consumers’ rights under the FCCPA so that they are aware of their compliance requirements under the FCCPA and the possibility of being sanctioned where they are found to be in breach.