The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it will take full action against any store found taking advantage of consumers by increasing prices of protective and hygiene products over the coronavirus case.
Since Nigeria recorded its index case of the disease on Friday, face masks, latex gloves and hand sanitisers have become scarce commodities.
TheCable had reported how prices of the items went up in some stores across Lagos.
In a statement, Babatunde Irukera, chief executive of FCCPC, said the manipulation of prices over the coronavirus is a violation of the law and that the commission is set to prosecute any offenders.
He asked consumers to be vigilant, and report “such unreasonable or arbitrary exploitative price increase or trade practices” to the commission by telephone on 08056002020 or 08056003030, or by email at email@example.com.
“This unusual and inordinate practice of unreasonably increasing the price of these products in an indiscriminate manner on account of the national public health concern (Coronavirus) violates both moral codes and extant law,” the statement read.
“Abusing citizens’ sensitivity, apprehension, anxiety and vulnerability, especially during emergencies that could adversely affect national security is a violation of law.
“Specifically, S. 17(s) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) prohibits ‘obnoxious trade practices’, or the -unscrupulous exploitation of consumers’.
“The Commission’s surveillance efforts have revealed that some otherwise reputable pharmacies and department stores are engaging in price gouging and manipulating supplies in a manner that distorts the market, or temporarily restricts availability in order to unreasonably/unfairly increase prices. Any conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement to unduly limit or manipulate supply, in order to unreasonably enhance price or otherwise restrain competition is a criminal offence under S.108(1)(b) and (c), FCCPA.
“Any exercise or exploitation of undue pressure in selling of the sale of goods or services, or price manipulation between displayed, and selling price are also serious violations of the FCCPA under Sections 115(3) and 124(1). Taking advantage of the possibility of infection by a dangerous communicable disease to control supply, or unilaterally increase prices is predatory as it preys on the desperation of citizens.”