Coronavirus: FG vows to prosecute stores that increase price of face masks, sanitisers

The commission has urged Nigerians to report stores that manipulate prices of hygiene product.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has vowed to clampdown on stores that manipulate price of protective and hygiene products as a result of Coronavirus.

Since the index case of the disease was recorded in Lagos, there have been reports about increase in prices of face masks, latex gloves and hand sanitisers.

A social media user on Saturday, February 29, 2020, accused a pharmacy store in Lagos of hiking the prices of a brand of sanitiser she bought for N19,950.

Replies to her tweets showed that the same sanitiser used to be sold for less than N5000.

Replying the tweet, the Chief Executive of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera confirmed the price hike by the pharmacy store, adding that the commission will go after the store.

In a statement on Saturday, the commission maintained that manipulation of prices over coronavirus is a violation of the law.

Irukera also asked Nigerians to 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 protected]

The statement reads, “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.

“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’.

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“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 ©, 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.”

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