The Federal Government has warned suppliers and retailers from using the excuse of the recorded case of coronavirus in Nigeria to inflate the prices of face masks and sanitisers.
The warning was issued on Saturday by the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), which said in a statement issued by its Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera, that the inordinate practice during national public health concern violates both moral codes and extant law.
Speaking further, Irukera said that findings have revealed that reputable pharmacies and department stores are engaging in price gouging and manipulating supplies in a manner that distorts the market, or temporarily restricts availability in order to unreasonably/unfairly increase prices.
He said; “Any conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement to unduly limit or manipulate supply, in order to unreasonably enhance price or otherwise restrain competition is a criminal offence under S.108(1)(b) and (c), FCCPA”, he noted.
“Any exercise or exploitation of undue pressure in selling or the sale of goods or services, or price manipulation between displayed, and selling price are also serious violations of the FCCPA under Sections 115(3) and 124(1).
“Taking advantage of the possibility of infection by a dangerous communicable disease to control supply, or unilaterally increase prices is predatory as it preys on the desperation of citizens.
“Considering the circumstances and the vital national interest/security this illegal conduct undermines, the Commission intends to strongly enforce the full letter of the law, including the fullest extent of penalties associated with this conduct,” he added.
The development comes after Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said on Friday 28 people who had contact with the Italian victim of the coronavirus had been identified and quarantined.
He also said a firm the victim visited in Ewekoro area of the state has been shut down.
The governor disclosed this while addressing journalists on the discovery of the coronavirus case in the country.
Abiodun said the state government had initiated moves to identify more contacts to curb the spread of the disease in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, had on Thursday night confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus.
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