In a bid to protect the rights of consumers, the Lagos state government have put laws in place to make sure consumers get the value for whatever goods and services they pay for. The laws are also designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors.
“[Lagos] is more or less the commercial nerve centre for the nation. There has been a need to have consumers protected because the bulk of goods consumed in Nigeria are here in Lagos. It’s about basically ensuring that consumers get what they are paying for and not the short end of the stick,” Tomi Vincent, managing partner of Ivory Solicitor, told CNBC Africa.
For the laws to work, awareness is crucial as people are not familiar with the rights they have as consumers.
“If the best of law is not activated by those it’s meant for, it will end up being law on the shelves,” Vincent added.
“There is not enough awareness created for people to know that they have rights, such as having the right to reject things and complain. Most times when you complain, people say you should just keep quiet and move on.”
Therefore, the Consumer Protection Council Act gives Nigerian consumers an opportunity to file complaints. This further allows the Consumer Protection Council to provide compensation when it identifies that a violation has taken place.
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“The Consumer Protection Council is more or less a government initiative. It’s a government approach to solve consumer issues.”
The government also introduced the ‘Check Best before Dates’ campaign which allows both the consumer to exercise their rights and the manufacturing sector to maintain high standards of product quality.
“Many people don’t even check the dates of the product, this may cause many health issues. So [this initiative is about us] getting people to be aware of the need to check best before dates.”
Vincent elaborated on the ill practice of removing dates on products by some food producers and replacing them with new ones.
“This is something that the majority of Nigerians need to become sensitive about. This is not even about the ‘Best before date’ practice, it’s about sensitivity. You have a right, you paid for [something] you didn’t steal it. So you need to get the value for what you’ve paid for and that it how it is supposed to be.”