The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has read the riot act on participants in the food chain sector over indiscriminate hike in the prices of food.
This is contained in a statement by the Acting Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Dr Adamu Abdullahi, on Friday in Abuja.
Abdullahi said the Commission would not tolerate price gouging, adding that legal consequences would be swift and severe.
He said the FCCPC’s surveillance efforts suggested that participants in the food chain distribution and retail level were engaging in conspiracy, price gouging, hoarding and other unfair tactics and strategies.
Abdullahi added that participants in the food chain sector were taking advantage of consumers’ anxiety and vulnerability to inflate prices.
He said the action which restricted and distorted competition was obnoxious, unscrupulous, exploitative and illegal.
According to him, any business participating in activities contributing to price gouging in the food chain sector is hereby warned to desist forthwith or face the full force of the law.
”The Commission’s priority remains to address key consumer protection and competition issues in the food chain sector.
”The Commission’s surveillance efforts suggested that participants in the food chain distribution and retail level were engaging in conspiracy, price gouging, hoarding and other unfair tactics and strategies.
”This is to restrict the supply of food, manipulate and inflate the price of food in an indiscriminate manner, this conduct violates both moral and legal codes.
”The use of undue influence, imbalance in negotiating power, unfair and similar conduct in the marketing and supply of goods and services is contrary to the FCCPA, will be penalised under law,” he said.
Reacting to the Federal High Court order mandating the Federal Government to fix the prices of certain food commodities, he said it was an unusual practice in a free market.
Abdullahi said the Commission was working with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and other stakeholders to come up with measures to curb the excessive prices of commodities.
”It is imperative to underscore that the Commission is not mandated to regulate prices.
”However, in rare situations and pursuant to the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, the Commission may advise the President to fix the prices of certain goods and services, based on empirical evidence.
”The Commission firmly believes that empirical data about the cause of unfair prices in the food sector must be the basis for any enforcement exercise,” Abdullahi said.
He advised consumers with useful information to unlock possible illegal, exclusionary or restrictive practices that contributed to unfair food prices to report same to the Commission through its designated portal.