Buhari signs bill protecting consumers by guarding against monopoly

President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, thereby making it the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2019, said to be the most prolific legislation for promoting consumer confidence, choice, and fair pricing.

This is coming fifteen years after the Bureau for Public Enterprise, BPE, proposed an anti-trust law to checkmate monopoly in the Nigerian economy. The law seeks to eliminate monopoly and ensure competitive trade in the country.

A statement signed and released by the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, Babatunde Irukera, in Abuja Wednesday, explained that, “The law deepens the framework for encouraging and supporting small and medium scale businesses by ensuring a playing field that eliminates entry barriers and operational obstacles which prevent sustainability and profitability.”

Irukera stated that federal government has cemented the most needed efficient and transparent framework for meaningful and credible disposition of public enterprises, expanding economic growth and assuring shared prosperity.

“As a leading market in Africa, a vibrant competition framework is a key tool in reducing poverty, increasing value for money and ensuring consumer satisfaction,” he stated.

The CPC boss pointed out that the new act, which is a demonstration of fidelity to consumers and citizens while continuing to promote Nigeria as a leading destination for investment, is an outstanding achievement, and a historic milestone in the development of Nigeria and prioritization of her people both from consumer protection and economic competitiveness standpoints.

Meanwhile, according to a statement he issued on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang, explained that the new law repeals the Consumer Protection Council Act and sections 118-128 of the Investment and Securities Act.

The new act establishes the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as well as the Consumer Protection Tribunal to try violations.

“The law is to promote economic efficiency, maintain competitive market in the Nigerian economy, protect the Nigerian economy, protect the interest and welfare of consumers by providing consumers with wide variety of quality products at competitive prices as well as prohibit restrictive or unfair business practices in the Nigerian economy.

“This act has accordingly, upon assent been remitted to the national assembly/appropriate authorities as law of the federation,” Enang said.

The presidential aide said the functions of the commission are to:

– Initiate broad based policies and review economic activities in Nigeria to identify anti-competitive, anti-consumer protection and restrictive practices which may adversely affect the economic interest of consumers and make rules and regulations under this Act and any other enactment with regards to competitions and protection of consumers.
– Advise the federal government generally on national policies and matters pertaining to all goods and services and on the determination of national norms and standards relating to competition and consumer protection.
– Report annually on market practices and the implications for consumer choice and competition in the consumer market.
– Eliminate anti-competitive agreements, misleading, unfair, deceptive or unconscionable marketing, trading and business practices.
– Resolve disputes or complaints, issue directives and apply sanctions where necessary.
Create public awareness through seminars, workshops, studies and make available information with regard to the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions to the public.
– Regulate and seek ways and means of removing or eliminating from the market, hazardous goods and services, including emission, untested, controversial, emerging or new technologies, products or devices whatsoever, and cause offenders to replace such goods or services with safer and more appropriate alternatives.
– Publish, from time to time, list of goods and services whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, restricted or are not approved by the federal government or foreign governments.

– Encourage trade, industry and professional associations to develop and enforce in their various fields quality standards designed to safeguard the interest of consumers.

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