The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned participants in the food chain sector over indiscriminate price hikes.
In a statement on Friday, the acting executive vice chairman of FCCPC, Adamu Abdullahi, said the commission would not tolerate price gouging.
Mr Abdullahi said legal consequences would be swift and severe.
He said the FCCPC’s surveillance efforts suggested that distributors and retailers engaged in conspiracy, price gouging, hoarding and other unfair tactics and strategies.
Mr Abdullahi added that participants in the food chain sector were taking advantage of consumers’ anxiety and vulnerability to inflate prices.
He said the action restricting and distorting competition was obnoxious, unscrupulous, exploitative, and illegal.
The FCCPC boss warned businesses participating in activities contributing to price gouging to desist forthwith or face the full force of the law.
”The commission’s surveillance efforts suggested that food chain distribution and retail level participants 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.
Mr Abdullahi said the commission was working with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and other stakeholders to devise 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 -resident 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 and to report them to the commission through its designated portal.