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‘They’re looking for scapegoats’ Nigerians express shock as FG seals off Abuja store over ‘high cost of goods’

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'They're looking for scapegoats' Nigerians express shock as FG seals off Abuja store over 'high cost of goods'

Some Nigerians have taken to social media to express concerns over the decision of the federation government to go after private businesses in attempt to resolve enveloping food crisis, arguing that it would only make matters worse.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), had in a move that brings memories of the 1984 crackdown on store owners in response to rising cost of living, on Friday, sealed Sahad Store, a popular supermarket in the Garki area of Abuja.

The move which comes a day after President Bola Tinubu unveiled plans to tackle factors responsible for food crisis, has led to many wondering how going after private businesses could be a solution to the prevailing crisis.

The management of the supermarket was accused of shortchanging customers by charging prices other than the price tag at the shelves.

The enforcement was led by FCCPC Acting Executive Vice Chairman, Adamu Ahmed Abdullahi.

Briefing journalists on the sidelines of the event, Abdullahi said the commission’s preliminary investigation confirmed that the management of the supermarket were short changing customers.

He said the store would remain sealed until the completion of the further investigation.

“What we have found out that these people are doing is misleading pricing and lack of transparency in the pricing, which is against Section 115 (3) of the law that says a consumer is not required to pay a price for any good or service higher than the one that’s on display,” he said.

“Section 155 states that any corporate person that contravenes is liable to a fine of 100 million naira or even more and the directors of the company themselves are liable upon conviction payment of 10 million naira each or imprisonment of six months or both.

“What we have done today is to make sure that they comply with the law. We initially called them to come and defend themselves, but failed to show up. In the long run, they sent a lawyer whom we asked if he was familiar with the facts of the case. He said he wasn’t.

“To unseal the store, they have to make sure that they do what is required to be done.”

Meanwhile, the move has been criticized by many Nigerians on social media who insist that traders cannot be held responsible for increasing food prices because they sell as they bought.

Reacting to the development, an X user,
Sam, @ilynem, noted: “I never in my life thought Nigeria will get so bad to the point government will start going after private property

On his part, a lawyer, Malachy Odo II, @MalachyOdo1, said, “I am afraid for the future of this country.

“How do I explain to rational minds, that the dark, twisted, polluted and illiterate ideas of some BATists here to stem our economic decline are being taken seriously by the government of the day? Very embarrassing.”

Also commenting, ʏօʊʀ dαddy’ѕ Fₐᵥₑ ßαddïε, @_mrsmalaprop, noted: “They are not providing cheaper means of freight for traders. They are not doing anything about insecurity and exchange rates. They are not doing anything about highway exploitation by state and non-state actors. Guess it is easier and more productive to scapegoat business people.”

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Ummulkhair, @khairugirei, said, “Let’s be honest. The fluctuations in naira changes the prices of commodities every single day. Do you expect these people to b changing prices of all commodities everyday? At least inform them to remove price tags on everything. This excuse is lame abeg. Let the man breathe please.”

Another user , Preacher without Pulpit, @OcharlesA1, noted that, “this what you get from a govt that lack capacity to govern. you haven’t stabilized ur exchange rate and you want to fix prices. Prices of goods changes everyday since Tinubu took over because of bad forex policy.”

McCa_Wiz, @McCa_Xn, said, “Seals off? Such actions are futile. Lacking in strategic thinking. Is it reasonable for me to sell my goods for one naira today, only to find I cannot repurchase the same goods for two naira tomorrow? The focus should be on improving the economy rather than persecuting individuals. This approach benefits no one. It’s problematic when leadership reminiscent of the Stone Age attempts to guide rational individuals. I didn’t expect much from a druggie anyways.”

Another user, Shafi’i Hamidu, @shafiihamidu, wrote: “It is senseless to shutdown Sahad Store for trying to keep up with this harsh economy. The root causes of this economic mess is not from food vendors. It start from insecurity that makes our farmers not to go to farms because of fear of kidnappers. This resulted in the shortage of food we are experiencing now. The next alternative is to import but this have the consequences of overwhelming the naira. Let the government be guided please.”

On his part, Samuel D Pokima, @PokimaSamuel, said, “This will make things worst and very illegal for FG to do. These are simply warehousing, stockeeping. Who ever supports this doesn’t own a business.”

Another user, King Alfred, @KingDouyeAlfred, said, “Instead of foregoing their own narrow interests and fixing things, they will attempt to throw ordinary businessmen as sacrifice to the people as the source of their problems. This is not novel or surprising – It’s actually standard feudal statecraft.”

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