Four supermarkets and pharmacies have been sued by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for increasing the prices of hand sanitizers following the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.
The four supermarkets: Prince Ebeano Supermarket Limited and its proprietor, David Ojei, and Bakan Gizo Pharmacy & Stores Nigeria Limited and their representatives, Ray Opia and Luter Irene, H-Medix Pharmacy & Stores Limited and their representatives, Sandra Ejekwu and John Oluwagbemiga, as well as Faxx Stores & Trading Limited and its representative, Adogah Ahmed were slammed with a six-count charge which centered on arbitrary increase in the price of hand sanitizers, hand-wash liquids, disinfectants and other anti-bacterial products of different brands.
In the lawsuit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the outlets were also accused of “exploiting the national public health emergency of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic to engage in price gouging of hand sanitizers and surgical disposable face masks of various existing brands and thereby engaged in the use of undue influence, pressure, unfair tactics and other obnoxious practices in connection with the supply of goods.”
It was further alleged that they supplied hand sanitizers and surgical disposable face masks of various existing brands to consumers at a price that was manifestly unfair, unreasonable and unjust; as well as disobeying without lawful excuse the lawful orders and directives of the commission against such practices.
While Prince Ebeano Supermarket Limited and H-Medix Pharmacy & Stores Ltd committed the offence between February 28 and March 6, 2020, FAXX Stores & Trading Ltd was accused of committing the offences between February 1 and March 24, 2020. Bakan Gizo Pharmacy & Stores Nigeria Ltd on the other hand, committed the offence on February 1 and March 9, 2020.
The offence was uncovered following complaints from consumers through various social media channels, as well as visits by operatives of the agency’s Surveillance and Enforcement office.