In the face of growing discrepancies in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) also known as petrol, and the nationwide fuel scarcity, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has charged the organised marketing associations including the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) to call their members to order over violations of consumers’ rights and exploitation of customers, and sales of petrol at prices higher rate than regulated price.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, made this known in his reaction to the nationwide fuel scarcity and queues witnessed across the country.
The FCCPC’s boss hinted that some oil marketers associated with the two organised bodies have been reportedly taking advantage of the pronouncemnt of President Bola Tinubu to sabotage the governance efforts made in the downstream sector geared towards sustainability.
He said, “It’s exploitation for marketers to unjustifiably foist inconvenience, difficulty & hardship on citizens. It’s sabotage to promote these when governance efforts are geared towards sustenance & sustainability. Those who do or enable such conduct must be held accountable and we will.
Speaking on the emerging constraints regarding fuel supply at retail outlets, Irukere said the FCCPC, has discovered the significant and potentially inexplicable emerging increase and lengthening of wait times in procuring fuel at filling stations in certain locations across the country.
He further noted that the emerging hardship on motorists and other consumers invariably impedes commerce, and traffic and presents other difficulties, unintended consequences, and financial constraints for citizens.
“The Commission in triaging this emerging situation has been in engagement with the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency(LASCOPA), the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority(NMDPRA), and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria(MOMAN).
“The outcome of this engagement 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 adopted the Advisory issued by NMDPRA on May 29, 2023, advising consumers not to engage in panic purchases or otherwise stockpile products in a manner inconsistent with regular periodic purchases and consumption,” the FCCPC boss said.
Warning customers against hoarding or panic buying, the FCCPC warned consumers not to modify their regular purchase and consumption patterns for the petroleum product which is flammable and risky to be stored.
He further observed that petroleum products are generally flammable and require transportations, dispensation, consumption, and storage in a strictly controlled and regulated manner, adding that any contrary approach to this strictly regulated manner constitutes danger and risk of significant losses, even fatality.
He said, “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.”
The Commission while reiterating the obligations of filling stations and depots undertaking in the supply chain, under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018, therefore warned the marketers against deceptive business practices, including exploitation of consumers and actions distorting competition through price-fixing or hoarding.
The Commission emphasised that it has agreed with LASCOPA and its expanding participation on a join inter-Agency Task Force to enforce the provisions of the law, ensure compliance and prevent hardship on citizens.
Irukera said that the Commission possesses the will and desire and is committed to the strictest enforcement of the law.
He said, “Petroleum 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 the evidence supports violation.”
The FCCPC boss revealed that President Bola Tinubu in his inaugural address on Monday, noted the sustainability of subsidy and also assured that resources associated with subsidy will support more meaningful and continued efforts towards improved lives and living conditions of citizens.
He therefore noted that the Commission and other enforcement agencies will continue to engage and update consumers.
He also encouraged consumers to produce credible information about any conduct or practices they experience within the petroleum product supply chain that was perceived as violation of the law, asking them to send that information through our appropriate channels.