The management of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it will prosecute any manufacturer, supplier and retailers of medical items who use opportunity of the global health crisis to exploit consumers.
The Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Mr Babatunde Irukera gave the warning during a video interaction with the members the Bridge-head Association of Ogbogwu International Market, Onitsha in Abuja on Thursday.
Irukera said the arbitrary price increase of the medical items could also lead to products forfeiture to the government.
According to him, the meeting is to talk with the suppliers to understand the pricing at which these products are coming in and ensure that retailers are not selling at excessive prices to consumers.
The chief executive officer, who said that investigations had shown that the market was the major supplier of medical goods across the country, noted that some retailers claimed they sold according to prices supplied to them.
Irukera noted that excessive pricing was a violation of the law.
“What we are seeing from the retailers is that the price of sanitisers and other medical supplies are excessively high.
“What this meeting is about is to talk with you suppliers to understand the pricing at which these things are coming in and ensure that retailers are not selling at excessive prices to consumers.
“You recognise that this is the time of emergency and it is not a time to make money off people.
“We are not encouraging business people to make a loss but we know that taking advantage of the situation to exploit people is against the law.
“What we will do for any retailer or supplier, or even manufacturer that uses this time that we are in to exploit consumers, they could be prosecuted and in prosecution, they are criminal penalties and in addition, forfeiture.
“This is why we are trying to work with your association so that you can let your members know that the reasonable margins that have been established over a period of time are sustainable,’’ he explained.
Irukera who also frowned at the arbitrary hike in the price of food items, said the commission had engaged in advocacy to let traders know the repercussions of price increase.
The Chairman of the association, Mr Anthony Ezioba, explained that some of the medical products were been imported from China.
Ezioba noted that the scarcity was caused by the importers who use the opportunity of the global health crisis to hoard their products thereby making them scarce in order to increase the price.
“The government can offer us little assistance so that the price can be affordable. We can approach the importers as a union.
“The products are not out of stock but due to the fact that the number they are bringing out is not sufficient.
“The government can help us so that we can buy the products in large quantity and sell to the people at an affordable price because if you force them (the importers) or tell them what to do, you might end up not seeing the products at all,’’ he explained.