House Passes Bill To Replace Consumer Protection Act

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara

The House of Representatives has passed the Federal Competition Commission Bill, which signals the repeal of the Consumer Protection Act.

Special Adviser Media and Public Affairs to the Speaker of the House, Turaki Hassan, made this known in a statement on Thursday.

He stated that the bill, which was sponsored by Speaker Dogara, seeks among other things, to establish a Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal to promote healthy business competition and strengthen consumer rights.

Turaki said that the House adopted the recommendation of the report on the bill “to repeal the Consumer Protection Act, establish the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and Consumer Protection Tribunal.”

With the adoption of report by the green chamber, the bill has scaled through the final stage on the floor of the House of Representatives.

According to Turaki, if the Senate concurs with the bill and it is assented to by the President Muhammadu Buhari, it is expected that it would “develop businesses, promote fair, efficient and competitive markets in the Nigerian economy, facilitate access by all citizens to safe products, secure the protection of rights for all consumers in Nigeria.”

A 5-year jail term and N50 million fine have been proposed for individuals who violate the competition law and a fine not exceeding ten percent turnover in the preceding business year of a defaulting company.

“For those in breach of consumer rights, it provides for individuals, imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to payment of fine not exceeding N10 million naira or both; and in the case of a corporate body, liable on conviction, to a fine of not less than N100 million or ten percent of its turnover in the preceding year, whichever is higher,” Turaki stated.

Similarly, the tribunal, as proposed in the bill, prohibits acts that deliberately seek to restrain competition by “directly or indirectly fixing a purchase or selling price of goods or services…; dividing markets by allocating customers, suppliers, territories or specific types of goods and services; limiting or controlling production or distribution of any goods or services, markets, technical development or investment; engaging in collusive tendering and making the conclusion of an agreement subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to their commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such agreement.”

The bill will also protect all patented products, protect employees, ensure that consumers have access to products made to the highest standards and compensation for faulty purchases or transactions.

Where provisions of the Bill are breached, the perpetrators, if individual, shall be liable on conviction, “to imprisonment not exceeding a term of five years, or to a fine not exceeding N50 million or both fine and imprisonment.”

On the other hand, if the defaulter is a corporate body, “it shall be liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten percent of its turnover in the preceding business year.”

The bill also stipulates that disobedience of an order served by the commission attracts upon conviction, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or a fine not exceeding N50 million, or both, while for corporate bodies, it would be, on conviction, liable to a fine not exceeding ten percent of its turnover in the preceding business year.

Dogara’s media aide further stated that the proposed law also addresses and provides penalties, “for issues such as abuse of a dominant position, monopoly, mergers, manipulation of prices (specific offences against competition), conspiracy, bid rigging, obstruction of investigation.”

“On consumer rights, it proposes that any person who contravenes any consumer rights commits an offence and is “liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to payment of fine not exceeding N10 million or both.

“In the case of a body corporate, liable on conviction, to a fine of not less than N100 million or ten percent of its turnover in the preceding year, whichever is higher.”