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FCCPC to clamp down on filling stations hoarding fuel

by Business News Report

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has said that in agreement with other agencies of government will enforce compliance to the regulated price. The Commission in a statement said  “the Commission has today agreed with 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 citizens. The Commission possesses the will and desire, and is committed to the strictest enforcement of the law. 

“Product marketers have been informed that any infringement which distorts the market or enables others to exploit consumers and perpetuate inconvenience will 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. The Commission and collaborators identified herein will continue to engage and update consumers. 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”. 

It further said “the Commission has notice a significant and potentially inexplicable emerging increase and lengthening of wait-times in procuring fuel at filling stations in certain locations across the country. This emerging hardship on motorists and other consumers invariably impedes commerce, traffic and presents other difficulties, unintended consequences and financial constraints for citizens. It said that “the Commission in triaging this emerging situation is in engagement with Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA); Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA); and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

“The outcome of these engagements between the top-level Executives of the Commission and these other relevant entities, as well as key operatives, demonstrates 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. The Commission adopts the Advisory issued by NMDPRA on 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. 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.

With respect to businesses/undertakings in the supply chain, the Commission hereby reiterates their obligations under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 (FCCPA): 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. 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.

Meanwhile Many petrol filling stations in across the country have shut down operations less than twenty four hours after President Bola Tinubu inauguration pronouncement that subsidy on the product was ‘gone’, causing the return of long queues. Some of the few retail outlets in the state capital that were selling between N215 and N230 on Monday have hiked the prices of the product between N450 and N700.

The NNPCL mega station is the only filling station selling at the pump price of N189, resulting in long queue. Most of the stations which were selling the product earlier between N215 and N230, have since shut down.

Product users who spoke with Vanguard decried the sharp increase in price as they struggle to purchase fuel. “This is the sad reality in our dear country where everybody wants to take advantage of every situation,” said a commercial cab operator, who simply identified himself as Chris. They pleaded with the new president to clear the air on his inauguration speech that subsidy on the product was ‘gone’

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