Several social media users have shared how prices of personal hygiene products in stores have shot up since the report that a man has tested positive for coronavirus in Lagos.
In a particularly bizarre case, a Twitter user, @MsPhareedah, shared that she bought a bottle of hand sanitiser for ₦19,950 from a pharmacy in Gbagada.
Now the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is saying that they will clamp down on such stores.
The commission’s chief executive, Babatunde Irukera, said in a statement that the manipulation of prices over the coronavirus is a violation of the law, The Cable reports.
He asked that folks 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]”
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.
Photo Credit: @medibcc