Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of a Lagos Federal High Court has ordered the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fix the price of goods and petroleum products within seven days from today, Wednesday 7 February 2024.
Specifically, Justice Lewis-Allagoa ordered the Nigerian government to fix the price of Milk, Flour, salt, sugar, bicycles and it’s spare parts, matches, motorcycles and its spare parts, motor vehicles and it’s spare parts as well as Petroleum products, which include: diesel, petrol motor spirit (PMS) and kerosene.
The judge made the order while delivering judgment in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/869/2023, filed by foremost human rights activist Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), against the Price Control Board and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
Falana (SAN) had approached the court for the followings: “whether by virtue of Section 4 of the Price Control Act., 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.
“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.
“An order directing 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 not later than 7 days after the delivery of the Judgment of this Honourable Court.”
At the hearing of the suit today, the plaintiff, Mr. Falana (SAN) informed the court that the motion on notice is premised on Section 4 (1) of the Price Control Act, 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.
Falana (SAN) consequently, urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought for since there is no any counter from the respondents.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa after hearing from the senior lawyer and perused through the court filed, observed that the defendants did not filed any counter to the suit after citing some plethoras of authorites 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 theme 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. And that on account of his human rights works, the Plaintiff 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, which I verily believe and still do believe, to wit: “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.
“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 to skyrocket.
“That I, Taiwo E. Olawanle, do solemnly and sincerely declare that I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the content to be true and correct by virtue of the provision of the Oaths Act, Cap. 01, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”