The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Monday gave his assent to the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency Bill, stating that the purpose of the law was to protect consumers and to ensure that they get value for their money.
The Governor who spoke at the Conference Room of the Lagos House, Ikeja added that the piece of legislative intervention also aims at ensuring that goods that are put on the market are fit for the purpose for which they are sold.
He explained that consumers must be able to seek relief or remedy against manufacturers who put goods that are substandard or those that are not fit for purpose unto the market, adding that he expects that the law would tell consumers that they should not be helpless against erring manufacturers or vendors or service providers, because the State Government has deemed it proper to give support to them so that their voices can be heard.
“I think everybody benefits because it raises the service levels of providers, it raises compliance levels, it improves the quality and standards of goods that are put in the market and the manufacturers and service providers also now know that there is at least a minimum service level expectation that the market will expect”, he explained.
Speaking earlier on some of the provisions of the new law, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaiye said the new law repeals the Lagos State Consumer Protection Committee Law, Cap. L15, LLS 2003 and does not affect any right that a consumer may have under any other law.
The Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency is also conferred with all the powers of a corporate body and would have representatives of the Ministries of Health, Commerce and Industry, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Standards Organisation of Nigeria as well as two representatives of recognized private sector organizations, the Attorney-General said.
The Attorney-General added that the agency shall also have power to ensure speedy redress of consumer complaints through negotiation, mediation and conciliation, ensure replacement of hazardous products and their elimination from the market in addition to initiating investigation whether it has received a complaint or not.
He noted that the agency is also empowered to publicize banned, withdrawn, restricted or unapproved products and cause offending businesses to compensate their consumers and also has the powers to apply to court where necessary to stop the circulation of hazardous products.
Section 14 of the new law provides that “if a complaint is filed by one or more consumer, consumer associations, State or Local Government Agency, after due investigation, including laboratory test which gives both sides an opportunity to be heard, the agency may direct the person responsible for the harmful product to remove the defect, replace the products, return the price paid, pay damages and withdraw the product from circulation.”
According to Mr Ipaiye, a person found guilty under the law shall be liable on first conviction to a fine of 500,000 Naira or imprisonment for 3 months, while subsequent conviction attracts a fine of 750,000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment.
The event was witnessed by the Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Transport, Commerce and Industry, Bisi Yussuf and Lanre Ogunyemi, as well as members of the State Executive Council, including the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu, Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry, Mr Seye Oladejo and Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Powers Bureau, Muslim Folami among others.