AN ASSESSMENT ON THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR CONSUMER PROTECTION IN THE PHARMACITCAL SECTOR IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT
Most Nigerian consumers are unaware of their consumer rights. Out of the few that are aware, an even smaller number have an idea of how to enforce such rights. The widespread lack of awareness, coupled with other factors in favour of the manufacturer, results in consumers getting the shorter end of the stick with regards to adequate protection from substandard, unsafe or inadequate products and services. The importance of consumer protection mechanisms is further amplified by global industrialisation and the recent influx of fake drugs into the Nigerian market.

The Government has a duty to protect its people from unscrupulous acts of sellers and manufacturers in order to uphold their rights and prevent adverse ripple effects that may arise. In furtherance of this objective, consumer protection laws have been enacted empowering government agencies to enforce and protect the rights of its citizens.

Consumers who intend to enforce their rights are usually faced with various hurdles ranging from ignorance to legal limitations and difficulties in civil actions. As a result, they are continuously deprived of their rights which are trampled upon by manufacturers / sellers. In Nigeria, it is evident that the consumer is the weaker party.

This research aims to review the existing statutory framework for consumer protection in a bid to highlighting flaws in the current system (both legal and non-legal) and proffer feasible recommendations and solutions to cure the prevalent malady. Furthermore, Nigerian case law will be examined in looking at the Court’s approach and attitude towards consumer protection in Nigeria.

The methodology to be employed in carrying out this study is of a qualitative and descriptive nature. This research will utilise both primary and secondary sources of information; gathered from textbooks, journals and articles (both online and published), dictionaries, paper presentations, public documents, statutes, etc. It is from an examination of these sources that the writer would address the questions generated by this project.

CHAPTER ONE 
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
INTRODUCTION
The deeply rooted maxim of caveat emptor2no longer applies strictly to consumer transactions as it has been whittled down by decisions of the court.3 On the contrary, it is the seller who must be cautious and ensure that goods and services provided meet up with the reasonable standards required by law.4

The saying, “Consumer is King”, is commonly used across the world to signify the upper-hand consumers have in determining the overall success or failure of any product or service. This also means that goods and services should be satisfactorily tailored to meet the needs of the consumer. As a result, rights accrue to consumers which they can enforce through civil actions in the event of breach or violation of those rights. These consumer rights are further enforced through laws promulgated by the National Assembly and such laws are enforced by government agencies.5 Their joint efforts are aimed at furthering the protection of consumer’s interests.

In Nigeria, a plethora of laws exist for the purpose of protecting consumer rights. Nevertheless, most Nigerian consumers aren’t able to receive adequate remedy for injuries suffered due to manufacturer’s products or services. Therefore, it may be concluded that the profusion of legal framework is not reflected in the protection afforded to consumers. Although recent efforts have been made by consumer protection agencies6 to strengthen the enforcement of consumer rights and promotion of their interests, Nigerian consumers are still deemed to be weaker than manufacturers/producers. The current paradigm calls for a balance of the competing interests of both sides.

According to Scott Maynes, consumers are ill-served majorly due to lack of information.7 This, coupled with the lack of awareness and the literacy levels amongst majority of the Nigerian populace, serves to fetter the enforcement of consumer rights. In Nigeria, the literacy rate as at December 2013 was placed at 61.3%.8 This means that nearly half of the people in Nigeria are illiterate. There even exists unawareness of consumer rights amongst the educated class. As a result, most consumers are unable to successfully assert their rights and are exploited by service providers. The need for an efficient consumer protection mechanism is further necessitated by modern technological advancements, deceptive advertising, marketing techniques and the advent of globalisation.

Others factors hampering the rights of consumers include: overlapping functions of consumer protection agencies and difficulties faced in enforcing civil rights. Nigeria, being a pro-consumer state with a population of about 170 million people9, must take steps to ensure that its people have smooth recourse to remedies for breach of their rights. The protection and advancement of consumer interests have therefore become a major concern to the government.

This study will examine the existing legal/statutory framework for consumer protection in Nigeria with a view to proffering the need for reforms, if any. It will also make recommendations as regards possible legal and non-legal redress mechanisms for consumers.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 76 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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