Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of a Federal High Court, in Lagos has ordered the Federal Government to fix the prices of food stuffs, and petroleum products within seven days from today (Wednesday).
The judge made the order while delivering judgment in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/869/2023, filed by human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), against the Price Control Board and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
Specifically, the court ordered the Federal Government to fix the price of Milk, Flour, salt, sugar, bicycles and its spare parts, matches, motorcycles and its spare parts, motor vehicles and its spare parts as well as petroleum products, which include: diesel, petrol motor spirit (PMS) and kerosene.
Falana (SAN) had approached the court for “a declaration that by virtue of Section 4 of the Price Control Act Cap, the defendants are under a legal obligation to fix the prices of bicycles and spare parts; flour; matches; milk; motorcycles and spare parts; motor vehicles and spare parts; salt; sugar and petroleum products including diesel, petrol motor spirit and kerosene.
“A declaration that the failure or refusal of the defendants to fix the prices of bicycles and spare parts; flour; matches; milk; motorcycles and spare parts; motor vehicles and spare parts; salt; sugar and petroleum products including diesel, petrol motor spirit and kerosene is illegal as it offends the provision of Section 4 of the Price Control Act, Cap, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
He also told the court that the defendants in the suit have been served with the processes since it was filed in May, 2023, but refused and failed to file any response or counter to it.
Consequently, Falana urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought for since there was no opposition from the respondents.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa after hearing from the senior lawyer and perused through the court processes, observed that the defendants did not file any counter to the suit. After citing some plethoras of legal authorities held that: “all the reliefs contained in the motion paper are hereby granted as prayed.”
Falana (SAN) in the affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by a lawyer in his chambers, Taiwo E. Olawanle, stated that the first defendant, (the Price Control Board), was established by the Price Control Act, and it is saddled with the responsibility to fix a price on goods to stabilize the general price level, prevention of hoarding of goods, protection of customers from exorbitant prices, among others, while the second defendant is the Chief Law Officer of the country.
He stated that as a fact, that the Plaintiff has been involved in the defence and promotion of human rights in Africa for over three decades.
He added that on account of his human rights works, he has been honoured by many local and international organizations including the American Bar Association (1996), International Bar Association (2008), Legal Aid Council (2011), Nigerian Lawyers Association (2012) and National Human Rights Commission (2015), ;
The deponent averred that on January 3, 2023, he was informed by Plaintiff in this matter: Mr Femi Falana, SAN of the following facts, “that the following commodities are listed in the Price Control Act: bicycles and its spare parts, Flour, Matches, Milk, Motorcycles and spare parts, Motor vehicles and it’s spare parts, Petroleum products, Salt and Sugar.
“The Act basically gave the first Defendant powers to fix the price of the wide array of commodities listed above.
“Though the price of the commodities listed above is supposed to be imposed by the 1st Defendant, the only petroleum products that are fixed to a certain amount are not being enforced.
“That the price of a bag of rice which was formerly N8,000 has risen to N45,000 in the market and it is currently going for N70,000 and above.
“That the situation in the market is by each passing day is becoming unbearable for consumers as prices of goods kept rising on daily basis.
“Sellers are not always sincere as they are so desperate to make excessive
profits at the expense of the buyers
“Food prices which human being should not be deprived of are on the high side due to lack of price fixing by the first defendant. And that buyers are at the receiving end when the prices of goods are increased as they tend to suffer for it more.
“That selling the bank is not in the best interest of the staff, customers and taxpayers whose money was used for the bailout of the bank. And that the incessant increase in prices of goods in the country got the attention of Federal House of Representatives recently that it resolved to set up a special committee to look into the situation.
“The increase in prices of goods has forced various categories of eateries and canteens to increase the prices of their meals, attributing the high costs to unstable and unfavourable prices of farm produce.
“That there is need for the first defendant to rise up to its task at imposing prices on these commodities. That unless the Defendants are mandated by this Honourable Court to wake up to their responsibilities, the prices of good would continue