The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has reiterated its commitment to ensuring fairness in commerce and market place, as well as preventing the exploitation of consumers.
Its Executive Vice Chairman, Mr Bababtunde Irukera, made the commitment in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos while speaking on the nature of complaints that could be prosecuted by the FCCPC and the challenges facing the commission.
NAN reports that the FCCPC is formerly known as the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the CPC Act which was its enabling statue has now been repealed and replaced with the FCCP Act, 2018.
Irukera said that the FCCPC was not primarily a law enforcement agency, but a regulator which possesses law enforcement powers.
“Prosecutions and imprisonment is not the primary goal in general regulation and compliance.
“Our primary role is to ensure that commerce and the marketplace is fair, as well as prevent exploitation of consumers,” he said.
He said that in doing that it was conceivable that the criminal justice process would play a role.
“The Commission, pursuant to Section 17(a) of the FCCP ACT, can enforce any enactment for the protection of consumers and in ensuring competition.
“This means that other pieces of legislation and subsidiary legislation which have provisions for competition and consumer protection may be enforced to the limited extent that the clauses sought to be enforced are related or for the purpose of consumer protection or competition.
“Also, Section 113(2) empowers the commission to either prosecute by itself, or refer to the Attorney-General for prosecution of violations of provisions of the FCCP Act.
“As such, the combination of these provisions shows that the commission may prosecute criminal violation that violates the FCCP Act or other enactments, for the protection of consumers and ensuring fair competition,” he said.
On some of the challenges facing the commission, he said that like the general challenges in the legal process, there was the usual problem of length of time in deciding cases.
Irukera also said that there was also a shortage of litigation lawyers in the commission.
He, however, said that the commission was hopeful that there would be an increase in the talent pool and capacity to prosecute cases, as well as fulfill the commission’s mandate efficiently.