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Fuel Supply: FCCPC urges consumers to shun panic purchases, warns product marketers

*Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says its engagements with NMDPRA, MOMAN, LASCOPA, and other relevant entities Tuesday, May 30, have indicated there is no operational basis or sufficiently diminished/acute reduction in product availability at both fuel supply and retail points in the value chain in the economy

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Pursuant to Sections 17(g), (l), (s); 59(1),(2)(c); 108 (1); 127(1)(a) And (b) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says the Commission has noted a significant and potentially inexplicable emerging increase and lengthening of wait-times in procuring fuel at filling stations in certain locations across Nigeria.

Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of FCCPC, who said this in a statement issued Tuesday,  May 30, 2023, noted the emerging hardship on motorists and other consumers invariably impedes commerce, traffic, and presents other difficulties, unintended consequences and financial constraints for consumers in the West African country.

Irukera stated the Commission in triaging this emerging situation Tuesday was engaged with the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA), the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA); and

Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) respectively.

Outcome of stakeholders’ engagements

The FCCPC Executive Vice-Chairman disclosed the outcome of the engagements between the top-level Executives of the Commission and these other relevant entities, as well as key operatives, demonstrated, that there is no operational basis or sufficiently diminished/acute reduction in product availability at both supply and retail points in the value chain to justify the hardship and constraints otherwise emerging.

Irukera stated: “The Commission adopts the Advisory issued by NMDPRA May 29, 2023, advising consumers not to engage in panic purchases or otherwise stockpiling products in a manner inconsistent with regular periodic purchases and consumption.

“Petroleum products are generally flammable and require transportation, dispensation, consumption and storage in strictly controlled and regulated manners.”

He also said: “Any contrary approach to these strictly regulated manners constitutes danger and risk of significant losses, even fatality.

“As such, and in accordance with the assurances of the NMDPRA and MOMAN that existing supplies are not insufficient for regularly established consumption levels, the Commission encourages consumers not to modify their regular purchase and consumption patterns.”

According to the Commission, in respect of businesses/undertakings in the supply chain, the FCCPC “hereby reiterates their obligations under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 (FCCPA), that: Section 17 (g) prohibits deceptive or unconscionable business practices.

“Section 17 (s) prohibits obnoxious practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, trade associations, and even individuals.

“Section 59 (1) and (2) prohibits any mutual understanding or decisions with a purpose or effect that prevents, restricts or distorts competition, specifically, and particularly including price-fixing or limiting distribution or supply.”

It stated: “Section 108 (1) prohibits any arrangements that unduly limit the production, transportation, storage and or supply of products, including for the purpose of enhancing price.

Section 127 (1) prohibits supplying products at prices or on terms that are manifestly unfair, unreasonable or unjust.”

Irukera said the Commission Tuesday, agreed with the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency – LASCOPA (and its expanding participation) on a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force to enforce the provisions of the law, ensure compliance and prevent hardship on consumers.

Warning to petroleum product marketers

The Commission as well  restated that it possesses “the will and desire, and is committed to the strictest enforcement of the law.”

The FCCPC also disclosed it has informed petroleum product marketers that any infringement which distorts the market or enables others to exploit consumers and perpetuate inconvenience would be subject to the aggravated and highest spectrum of penalties where evidence supports violation.

“Organised marketing or trading associations/platforms, such as MOMAN and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), are in particular invited to note this and their collective and individual possible exposure in the event of evidence-supported violations,” said the Commission.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, in noting the unsustainability of subsidy in Nigeria, has assured that resources associated with subsidy will support more meaningful and continued efforts towards improved lives and living conditions of citizens.

Commission on further updates

The EVC/CEO noted the Commission and its collaborators identified herein would continue to engage and update consumers in this regard.

Idukera added: “Consumers are also invited to provide credible information about any conduct or practices they experience, which they perceive may be a possible violation of the law.

“Such information may be sent through our normal channels, in particular,”

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