The Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria is a parastatal established under the Consumer Protection Act.
The duties with which the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) is charged under the law are extensive. The law also conferred corresponding powers on the Council in order to enable it discharge its duties effectively.
The Council is charged with the following duties:
- provide speedy redress to consumers complaints through negotiations, mediation and conciliations;
- remove and eliminate from the market hazardous products and to ensure that such hazardous products are replaced with safer and more appropriate alternatives.
- Publish from time to time list of products whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, restricted or not approved by the Nigerian government or foreign government;
- Cause an offending individual or organisation to provide compensation to injured consumers or communities and to provide protection for consumers against the adverse effects of technology;
- Undertake activities that will increase consumer awareness and encourage the formation of voluntary consumer groups for consumers’ well being
- Issue guidelines which manufacturers and dealers are expected to comply with;
- encourage the adoption of appropriate measures to ensure that products are safe for either intended or normally safe use.
In the discharge of its duties, the Council has the following powers:
- the council may apply to court to prevent the circulation of any product which constitutes an imminent public hazard;
- the council can compel a manufacturer to certify that all safety standards are met in their products;
- the council may cause quality tests to be conducted on a consumer product;
- demand production of label showing date and place of manufacture of a commodity as well as certification of compliance;
- compel a manufacturer, dealer and service company where appropriate, to give public notice of any health hazards inherent in their products;
- ban the sale, distribution and advertisement of products which do not comply with safety or health regulations.
The Council in exercise of its powers and in further discharge of its duties have made the Consumer Protection (Products and Services Monitoring and Registration) Regulations 2005.
The Regulations requires that every product manufactured, imported, advertised, sold or distributed in Nigeria be registered with the Council. Registration with other regulatory agencies does not exempt a product from registration with the Council; rather, a reduced fee may be paid for registration. Upon registration with the council, a certificate of registration is issued and the certificate is valid and operative for 5 years.
A certificate of registration may be suspended, withdrawn, or cancelled by the Council if
- The grounds on which the product was registered were false or incomplete; or
- The circumstance under which the product was registered no longer exists;
- Any of the conditions or undertaking under which the product was registered have been contravened; or
- The standard or quality, safety or efficacy as prescribed in the documentation for registration are not being complied with.
A few of the activities of the Council geared towards discharging its duties under the law will be highlighted:
- The council stated that it has commenced investigations into the assertions made by the Nigerian Breweries that consumption of beer has many nutritional, health and therapeutic benefits. This the Council stated is in furtherance of its mandate to ensure that information put out to consumers is not misleading.
- The Council issued a seven day ultimatum to Samsung Electronics West Africa Limited to provide information on the full status of its compliance with the global directive of Samsung on the recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 which had been reported to explode while charging. Samsung complied and further stated its readiness to provide voluntary exchange for consumers in Nigeria who may have purchased the device.
- A visit by the Council to Fan Milk Nig Plc. Resulted in the Council and the company signing an undertaking to improve on its hygiene and storage practices.
- Testimonies of dissatisfied consumers who had their issues resolved by the Council is also available on their website as proof that the council is beginning to take its mandate seriously.
A dissatisfied consumer can make a complaint to the council and have the council mediate or issue directions to the manufacturer to right a wrong. This is a better alternative to litigation as it could be faster and more effective.
The council has made some achievements, but there exists plenty of room for more improvement.