CONSUMER PROTECTION: KNOWING THE RULES & RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER IN NIGERIA


Hello all, today I will be writing on knowing your consumer rights as a Nigerian. This afternoon i decide to take a snack of two  pieces of sausage roll and wash it down with a bottle of iced vitamilk.

I checked my safe for my fresh sausage roll's and begin to eat.  Midway into the second piece, i dug my teeth into what seems like a twisted iron. Immediately, my teeth began to ache and my head throb.

 Almost immediately, i remembered the landmark case of Donoghue v Stevenson. In this case, a consumer who found rotten snail in her ginger beer sued the manufacturer for negligience.

The court in affirming the manufacturers negligence defined a neighbour thus "The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer's question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply.

You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.

Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question"  This has has later helped in defining a consumer.

I'm considering filing an action in court or lodging a complaint to Consumer Protection Council (CPC)while pondering on my course of action, i decide to write on consumer protection.

Who is a Consumer?

The Black's Law. Dictionary defines “consumer” as a person who buys goods or services for personal, family, or household use, with no intention of resale; a natural person who uses. products for personal rather than business purposes.

The Consumer Protection Council Act, CAP C25 Laws of the Federation, 2004 defined a consumer as an individual who purchases, uses, maintains or disposes of products or services.

Going by these definitions, every person who  buys/acquires product's, good's and services either for personal or commercial purpose is a consumer.

In Nigeria, the like of NAFDAC, SON are saddled with ensuring strict compliance with healthy standard of production.

 A wider responsibility is placed on Consumer's Protection Council (CPC) The CPC is a Parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria, supervised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.

Though it was established by Act No. 66 of1992, it commenced operations only in 1999, when its institutional framework was put in place.

Its mandate requires us to, among others, eliminate hazardous products from the market, provide speedy redress to consumers complaints, undertake campaigns as will lead to increased consumer awareness, ensure that consumers interest receive due consideration at the appropriate forum, and encourage trade, industry and professional associations to develop and enforce in their various fields quality standards designed to safeguard the interest of consumers.

Unknown to many consumer's, a consumer is vested with certain rights. Below is a list of a Consumers right in Nigeria;

(i)The right to know or the right to information
(ii) The right to be heard
(iii) The right to safety
(iv) The right to choose
(v) The right to satisfaction of basic needs
(vi) The right to redress
(vii) The right to consumer education
(viii) The right to representation and right to healthy environment

Any Nigerian being a consumer can actually seek redress if any of these right is trampled upon
The functions of the Council as provided in section 2 of the Consumer Protection Council Act are as follows:

a)    Providing speedy redress to consumers complaints through negotiation, mediation and conciliation;

b)    Seeking ways and means of removing from the markets hazardous products and causing offenders to replace such products with safer and more appropriate alternatives;

c)     Publishing from time to time list of products whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, severally restricted or not approved by the Federal Government;

d)    Causing an offending company, firm, trade association or individual to protect, compensate, provide relief and safeguards to injured consumers or communities from adverse effects of technologies that are inherently harmful, injurious, violent or highly hazardous;

e)    Organising and undertaking campaigns and other forms of activities that will lead to increased public consumer awareness;

f)      Encouraging trade, industry and professional associations to develop and enforce in their various fields, quality standards designed to safeguard the interest of consumers;

g)    Issuing guidelines to manufacturers, importers, dealers and wholesalers in relation to their obligation under the CPC enabling law;

h)    Encouraging the formation of voluntary consumer groups or associations for consumers’ well being;

i)      Ensuring that consumers’ interest receive due consideration at appropriate fora and providing redress to obnoxious practices or the unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, firms, trade associations or individuals;

In  Adebo V 7up bottling co where an exporters drinks were impounded and destroyed in the US for containing more than the. required of benzoic acid.

The The court held in Adebo Holdings Ltd & Anor v. Nigerian Bottling Company Plc & Ano r that high levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives in the coca-cola products could pose a health risk to consumers when mixed with ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C.

The court also went further to blame NAFDAC for not carrying out its duties “It is manifest that NAFDAC has been grossly irresponsible in its regulatory duties to the consumers of Fanta and Sprite manufactured by Nigeria Bottling Company, NAFDAC has failed the citizens of this great nation by its certification as satisfactory for human consumption products which become poisonous in the presence of ascorbic acid.”

The Lagos State Judiciary on the 14th of May,2018 set up a small claims court to settle disputes arising from consumer's grievances.

The court is required to resolve dispute within 60 days and the maximum momentary value of claims that can be brought before it is put at N5,000,000 (Five Million Naira). This is a welcome development given the fact that Lagos is a commercial center.

The bottom-line of today's discourse is that manufacturer of goods owes the consumer a duty of care hence must due care in producing goods for our consumption.

Unsatisfied with the quality of goods and services? Why not contact consumer protection council in Nigeria today Visit www.cpc.gov.ng

CONSUMER PROTECTION: KNOWING THE RULES & RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER IN NIGERIA CONSUMER PROTECTION: KNOWING THE RULES &  RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER IN NIGERIA Reviewed by Reine Mamzi on 11:48 Rating: 5

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