Exploitative price hikes on commodities illegal – FCCPC warns

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, has declared that ‘exploitative’ hikes in the prices of commodities are illegal in Nigeria, reiterating its commitment to protecting consumer rights and maintaining fair market practices.
This is as the Commission also launched an investigation into the recent hikes in the prices of commodities in Bauch State with a view to identifying and addressing unfair practices affecting consumers.
Speaking at a market survey at the Muda Lawal Market, the Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr Adamu Abdullahi, said a survey carried out in marketplaces showed that the food chain and distribution sector, including wholesalers and retailers, are allegedly engaged in conspiracy, price gouging, hoarding and other unfair tactics.
He condemned the acts, adding that the development has contributed to a rise in the cost of living.
“We are engaging market associations, traders, and customers so we can know the factors affecting the prices of goods. At the end, we will address uncompetitiveness and make recommendations to the federal government,” he said.
Abdullahi, who was represented by the FCCPC coordinator for the North East Zone, Dauda Waja Ahmadu, added that “FCCPC’s surveillance efforts suggest participants in the food chain and distribution sector, including wholesalers and retailers, are allegedly engaged in conspiracy, price gouging, hoarding, and other unfair tactics to restrict or distort competition in the market, restrict the supply of food, and manipulate and inflate the price of food in an indiscriminate manner. These obnoxious, unscrupulous, exploitative practices are illegal under the FCCPA.”
According to him, FCCPC has been engaging in fact-finding interactions with traders’ associations and marketers to ascertain factors responsible for the continuous hike in food prices.
He stated further that the fact-finding inquiry is an investigative mission to gather information directly from the sources and stakeholders in major markets, particularly executives, market unions, sellers, and consumers.
“The Commission’s priority remains to unlock the markets and address key consumer protection and competition issues affecting the prices of commodities in the food sector,” he said.
He said after the market survey, the Commission would develop “a concise report of its inquiry and make recommendations to the government in accordance with Section 17(b) of the FCCPA and initiate broad-based policies and review economic activities in Nigeria to identify and address anti-competitive, anti-consumer protection, and restrictive practices to make markets more competitive while also ensuring fair pricing for consumers.”
Meanwhile, traders at the Muda Lawal Market have attributed the recent hike in commodity prices to their suppliers, pointing to increased wholesale costs as the primary cause.