The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission has threatened to invoke the law against violators of fair competition and consumer protection regulations in the country.
The agency said this in a statement on Tuesday amid growing reports of “arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable, excessive and irrational pricing (price gouging) in the country.”
The Commission said its periodic monitoring activities revealed some suppliers and retailers have continued to take undue and opportunistic advantage of citizens.
The worst culprits, the agency said, are those selling critical hygiene products associated with containing and preventing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus and associated developments.
On February 28, the Commission published an advisory against these illegal practices and warned against their dire consequences.
It said although many exercised circumspection and continued to ensure supply and pricing within fair and acceptable ranges, many others have continued to perpetrate these misconduct.
Apart from selling the products at inexplicably high and excessive prices, the Commission said others have continued to make unsupported claims about the efficacy of certain medications and or hygiene products.
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“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 said.
Apart from enforcing the law with respect to fair competition and consumer protection, the Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera, said the Commission would also 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 the same,” Mr Irukera said.
On consumer behavior, Mr Irukera admonished consumers to moderate the impulse to making unnecessary or excessive purchases in panic as this promotes gouging, and anxiety.
In particular, he said 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 available inventory.
The Commission advised consumers to avoid large gatherings, including markets/stores to make needless or non-essential purchases.
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