Consumer Protection in Nigeria

Consumer Protection in Nigeria

 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a consumer is anyone that utilizes economic goods. A consumer is any person who makes a purchase or makes an attempt to purchase goods, services and commodities for personal use and/or commercial purposes.

Rights and limitations apply to everyday life, including making personal purchases. Many consumers do not take cognisance of such rights.

Consumer protection deals with safeguarding buyers of goods and services against unfair practices and fraudulent transactions in the marketplace. It exists to protect the interest of consumers.

Consumer protection ensures that consumers are well informed about the products and/or services they pay for to guarantee the quality of what they get.

Consumer protection has a range of operations which exist to secure consumer from unsafe transactions, defective goods and poor services. These include, amongst others;

The right to safety

 

Every consumer is entitled to their safety. Manufacturing and distribution companies are responsible the safety of products and are liable for damages caused by the products. The safety rights affect businesses because manufacturing companies have to ensure products are safe for public consumption.The companies ascertain their products are safe to protect them from lawsuits. This is seen on products as companies indicate period when goods are safe for consumption and warning labels.

Safety rights protect the consumers by ensuring manufacturing companies use high quality, safe materials for production.

 

The right to choose

 

Consumers deserve to have multiple options to make their choices. Availability of choices lead to competition between suppliers and retailers which leads to lower prices.

In the absence of competition, a company can decide to raise their prices or rather, reduce the quality of their products and/or services .

The right of choice allows the consumer to compare the composition, specifications and quality of products and this fosters healthy competition amongst manufacturing companies.

 

The right to be informed

 

Getting adequate and essential information about the products and/or services to be purchased is mandatory for every consumer. Consumers are entitled to know details of use, content, quantity, handling and period of validity of any product being purchased. Manufacturing companies are responsible for ensuring the consumer is fully informed in order to get optimal value of products.

 

This regulates the information consumers get and prevents the spread of misleading advertisements.

 

The right to seek redress

 

Consumer have a right to be compensated for defective goods and unsatisfactory services. Consumers can seek redress against unfair transactions and exploitation.

This right allows consumers get compensated for substandard products thereby ensuring manufacturing companies, distributors and suppliers provide quality at all times.

 

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, was established under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, FCCPA in 2018. The FCCPC exists to protect consumer interests by providing a variety of quality products at the best prices and preventing unfair transactions by promoting competition in Nigerian marketplaces.

Prior to the establishment of the FCCPC, the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, enforced consumer laws in Nigeria. The CPC was established under the Consumer Protection Council Act in 2004. The CPC is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, supervised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment. Though it was established in 1992, it commenced operations in 1999. The CPC was, amongst others, empowered to eliminate hazardous and substandard goods and commodities from the market, undertake campaigns to increase consumer awareness, provide redress to consumer complaints, prevent illegal transactions and protect the general interests of consumers.

 

The FCCPC repealed the CPA and assumed all rights, interests, obligations, assets and liabilities of the CPC thereby existing as the principal legislation protecting the rights of consumers in Nigeria.

 

The FCCPC is the principal legislature established to administer and enforce the provisions of the FCCPA. However, The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, CCPT, adjudicates over conduct prohibited by the FCCPA.

 

The CCPT was established under the FCCPA to, amongst others, hear appeals from or reviews any decision of the FCCPC taken in the course of implementation of any of the provisions of the FCCPA, review decisions from, the exercise of the powers of any sector-specific regulatory authority in a regulated industry, in respect to consumer protection matters.

 

In addition to the FCCPC, there are other sectors responsible for the protection of consumers in Nigeria. The FCCPA states that the other sector regulators have have concurrent jurisdiction with the FCCPC and in the event of conflict, the FCCPC will have precedence over the said sector regulator. The sector regulators include, amongst others:

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

 

The CBN issued Consumer Protection Regulations in 2019 to guide the effective regulation of consumer protection practices of financial institutions.

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

 

The NCC, as the topmost regulators of the Nigerian communications industry was empowered with powers to protect and promote the right and interests of communication service consumers against unfair practices in Nigeria. The NCC issued the General Consumer Code of Practice in 2018 which has detailed provisions on the protection of the rights of communication services consumers.

 

Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)

 

The NERC, established by Electric Power Sector Reform Act in 2005 was empowered by legislation to, amongst others, ensure that the prices charged by the electricity supply/distribution companies are fair to those consumers; and the (ii) safety, security, reliability and quality of service in the production and delivery of electricity to consumers. The NERC issued the NERC Customer Services Standards of Performance for Distribution Companies in 2007 and the Customers Complaint handling of customers’ complaints.

National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)

NAFDAC was established under NAFDAC act in 2004. NAFDAC was established as a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Health and ensures consumer protection by regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water in Nigeria.

 

Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON)

 

The SON, which was established by the Standards Organization of Nigeria Act in 2015 is empowered by the legislation to, amongst others, ensure locally manufactured products in Nigeria give the desired degree of satisfaction to consumers and that products imported to Nigeria are safe for consumption.

 

Exercising Consumer Protection Rights in Nigeria

 

The FCCPA defines consumer in section 167(1) to include any person “who purchases or offer to purchase goods other than the purpose of resale, but does not include a person who purchase any goods for the purpose of using them in the production or manufacture of other goods or articles for sale or (b) to whom a service is rendered.

The consumer law protect persons this definition apply to. This definition does not however include a person who makes an offer without a purchase and it does not clarify the consumer in an

 

Electronic or online media.

 

Purchasing defective goods and receiving poor service is inevitable for every consumer. In the case of an unpreventable situation like this, the FCCPC takes charge and handles the situation when a formal complaint is reported.

Consumers can report almost everything related to paid products and/or services. This include, amongst others, an instance where consumers get misleading information about a product and/or service, an instance a substandard product was purchased and delivery of poor levels of service. Consumers may file a complaint to the FCCPC through an online complaint form by providing information about the product and/or service. This information include:

 

Name of the purchaser/ person making the complaint       Contact address of the purchaser

Contact details, mobile number and email address     Name of the company in question

Address of the company, specifying the branch

Contact details of the company, telephone number and email       Receipt number of the product and/or service

Brief explanation of complaint

Brief explanation of outcome

 

Consumers may contact FCCPC by email on contact@fccpc.gov.ng

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Enquire here

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we'll contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.





    × How can I help you?