The Nigerian government has a duty to intervene decisively on behalf of the majority of the people by enforcing price control mechanisms that protect citizens from exploitation as envisaged under the Price Control Act.
This is the view of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, who believes that this is necessary to guarantee that the economy of the country is not concentrated in the hands of a few.
Falana spoke with Channels Television’s correspondent, Shola Soyele against the background of his recent lawsuit against the federal government over failure to control rising prices of essential commodities.
“The Bola Tinubu administration has said that there is food in abundance in Nigeria. I think the Minister of Information made that statement a couple of days ago, but we have a situation where majority of the people cannot afford the prices that have gone to the roof.
“And so that is why the government has a duty under the Price Control Act to control the price of essential commodities so that Nigerians will not be subjected to hunger unnecessarily. It is so bad now that if you pick a food item, if you go back to the market tomorrow, the price has gone up,” Falana said.
He argued that while affluent citizens can cope with spiralling inflation, most ordinary Nigerians have been priced out of accessing basic commodities under the current laissez-faire regime. Hence, the urgent need for government’s intervention based on extant laws.
The Senior Advocate also questioned why electricity tariffs, telecom rates and petrol pump price could be moderated via subsidies whilst other essentials like food, medicines and diesel were allowed to rise astronomically thereby eroding people’s purchasing power.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered the Federal Government to fix the price of goods and petroleum products within seven days from today.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa granted the order sequel to an originating motion filed and argued by the applicant, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.
Falana had dragged the Price Control Board and the Attorney General of the Federation, both of whom are listed as defendants before the court to determine “whether by virtue of Section 4 (1) of the Price Control Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the first defendant is carrying out its duty to impose a price on any goods that are of the kind specified in the First Schedule to the Price Control Act.”
In an affidavit in support of the summons taken out by the Senior Advocate and deposed to by a legal practitioner from his firm, Taiwo Olawanle, the deponent noted that the following commodities: bicycles and its spare parts; flour; matches; milk; motorcycles and its spare parts; motor vehicles and spare parts; salt; sugar and petroleum products including diesel, petrol motor spirit and kerosene are listed in the Price Control Act.
He also noted that the Act gives the Price Control Board powers to fix the prices of this wide array of commodities.