Subsidy: FCCPC To Clamp Down On Marketers Hoarding Fuel Products

FCCPC’s Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Babatunde Irukera

By Miriam Humbe

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, (FCCPC) has warned petroleum product marketers that in the consumer’s interest, the Commission would not tolerate any infringement which distorts the market or enables others to exploit consumers and perpetuate inconvenience as this would attract severe penalties where there was evidence of violation.

FCCPC’s Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera said this in a statement signed on Tuesday.

Humsimedia recalled that following the announcement by President Bola Tinubu to remove subsidy on petroleum products, queues resurfaced at most gas stations across the country.

It was also gathered that the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) had risen to N350 in some parts of the nation with some petroleum marketers hoarding the products, leading to scarcity amid other untold hardships.

The FCCPC said the Commission noted a significant and potentially inexplicable emerging increase and lengthening of wait-times in procuring fuel at filling stations in certain locations across the country.

The FCCPC frowned at the emerging hardship on motorists and other consumers which invariably impeded commerce, traffic and presented other difficulties, unintended consequences and financial constraints for citizens.

The Commission therefore engaged relevant authorities with a view to solving the current problem.

These authorities included: Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA); the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA); and major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

FCCPC said the outcome of the engagements between the top-level Executives of the Commission and the other relevant entities, as well as key operatives, revealed there was no operational basis or sufficiently diminished/acute reduction in product availability at both supply and retail points in the value chain to justify the otherwise emerging hardship and constraints.

The Commission therefore, adopted 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.

The Commission said Petroleum products were generally flammable and required transportation, dispensation, consumption and storage in strictly controlled and regulated manners.

The FCCPC boss 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.”

With respect to businesses/undertakings in the supply chain, the Commission spelled out the Marketer’s obligations under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 (FCCPA) thus:

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.

The Commission said it had on Tuesday, 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 said it possessed the will and desire, and was committed to the strictest enforcement of the law.

FCCPC said organised marketing or trading associations/platforms such as MOMAN and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) were particularly invited to note this and their collective and individual possible exposure in the event of evidence-supported violations.

The Commission said it would along with the collaborators identified herein, continue to engage and update consumers.

The Commission invited consumers to provide credible information about any conduct or practices they experienced which they perceived might be a possible violation of the law.

FCCPC therefore encouraged consumers to send such information through the (Commission’s) normal channels, in particular,

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