‘Regulatory Interventions Have Minimised Consumer Rights’ Violations’

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Babatunde Irukera

James Emejo in Abuja

The Chief Executive, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Mr. Babatunde Irukera, has said regulatory interventions have been effective in protecting consumers from rights abuses by organisations.

He said though, “there’s still lots of roads to walk to resolve some other issues”, complaints relating to service failure have reduced dramatically due to a sound regulatory system.

He also said plans were ongoing towards the establishment of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal as provided for by the FCCP Act.

He added that proposed tribunal will include a panel of judges while decisions on consumer protection and competition issues will be entertained therein.

Speaking with THISDAY, he said the commission had been working with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to address several consumer-related issues in the telecommunications industry in recent times.

Specifically, he said issues bothering on automatic subscriptions or unsolicited messages have reduced due to its regulatory intervention in the sector.

He also said complaints with respect to Dstv had further reduced significantly though not completely eliminated.
He said: “We don’t hear back from people when a problem is resolved and that’s natural. But when the problem persists or exists you would hear.

“So sometimes. when you see that some things have reduced, it’s not necessarily complacency but intervention and solutions.”

Irukera, further explained that the law establishing the commission empowers it to commence litigation against any erring entity but expressed hope that, “it does not become a tradition for us to always resort to court.”

“What each of these cases does is to send a clear message that you’ve got a regulator who has both the desire and the will to hold people accountable and enforce compliance to the fullest extent of the law including actual prosecution,” he said.

He also said that the Patient Bill of Rights (PBOR), introduced in 2018 by FCCPC and which sets standards for operation for both consumers and healthcare providers in the country, had recorded some milestones.

He noted that prior to the launch of PBOR, there was not a single complaint against any medical personnel, adding that between July 2018 and now, there had been close to 20 complaints with four doctors disciplined.

The FCCPC chief executive added: “For over eight years before the patient bill of rights not one single doctor in Nigeria had been subjected to disciplinary action by the professional regulatory council.

“But between that patient bill of rights and now, four doctors have been disciplined because as the cases come to us, we will address the question of consumer protection or where there’s a component that shows there’s a professional misconduct, we immediately forward it to the disciplinary regulator and stay on it.”

He called for a joint partnership strategy for improving the services industry adding that, “One of the fundamental problems as a people is that we focus so much on the products. If we focus and mind the process, we won’t need to worry about the product.”