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FCCPC investigates alleged infractions in Nigeria’s shipping, freight forwarding industry

*Nigeria’s Federal Competion and Consumer Protection Commission discloses that five companies and others have participated in, or coordinated anti-competitive conduct, both in Nigeria and overseas, to materially distort the market, prevent fair competition, and engender high freight rates and associated costs to, and in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Federal Competion and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has disclosed the regulatory Commision Monday, October 18, 2021, executed a judicial search warrant and order of the Federal High Court to search and gather information/evidence in furtherance of an open and active investigation of potential infringements of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018 on five companies within the shipping and freight forwarding industry in Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect reports the FCCPC stated that its mandate was pursuant to Sections 1(d); 2(2)(c), 2(3)(c); 17(e), (g), (s); 18(3)(a), (c), (d), (e), (f); 59; 69; 72; 73; 107; 108; 125; 127 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA), 2018.

Nigerian seaports

Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice-Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of FCCPC, stated noted prior to the execution of the search warrant and order of the court October 18, the Commission had gathered credible and actionable intelligence sufficient to establish probable cause and reasonable basis for the court to issue a warrant and enter an order permitting executives and operatives of the Commission to conduct a search of the companies named in the warrant and order.

The Commission’s EVC/CEO said: “Essentially, the intelligence indicate that the five companies identified in the warrant (as well as others who were neither subject of the warrant nor targets of the search) have over a period of time, within and outside Nigeria participated in, or coordinated anti-competitive conduct that materially affect or distort the market in Nigeria, including preventing fair competition, and engendering continuing high freight rates and associated costs to, and in Nigeria.

According to FCCPC, targets of the execution of the search warrant were largely cooperative with minimal exceptions, which exceptions included, physically and verbally assaulting officials and authorised persons of the Commission.

They equally resisted, delayed, impeded, or obstructed the investigatory process in violation of law of the country, said Mr. Irukera.

The statement further said: “These exceptions are currently being processed for further criminal and other judicial procedures in accordance with the FCCPA and extant criminal procedure laws.

“These are the early stages of the investigation, and the Commission expects it will include gathering more information from operatives of the current targets in accordance with the FCCPA, and expand to other companies in the same industry where required.”

He also stated that the Commission encourages persons who may have any information, and or complaints/dissatisfaction or aware of illegal/suspicious conduct with respect to services, rates or activities within the industry, including agents or employees of companies in the industry to provide same to the Commission.

These, the Commision noted, include anonymously, or in exchange for immunity or other available protection from personal liability or responsibility for conduct in violation of law under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Investigative Cooperation/Assistance Rules & Procedures 2021 (available on the FCCPC Web site: www.fccpc.gov.ng).

The FCCPC said: “The Commission also invites other companies in the industry who may wish to take advantage of leniency provisions in the FCCPA to immediately engage before they become specific targets, and the investigation extends to their activities.”

The statement added that “persons wishing to provide information, or whistle-blow may send same to, or contact the Commission at shippingintel@fccpc.gov.ng.

“Companies interested in entering into the leniency programme of the Commission may formally approach the Commission through the Surveillance & Enforcement Department of the Commission.”

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