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Lagos Assembly Holds Public Hearing On New Consumer Protection Law, Disagrees Over Percentage Interest On Loan

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There was a mild drama between a stakeholder, Mr Wuraola Abdussalam and members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Friday at the public hearing organised by the Assembly’s Committee On Commerce and Industry.

It was on a ‘Bill for a Law to Establish the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency, Provide for the Protection of the Interest of Consumers, Settlement of Consumer Disputes and for Connected Purpose.’

After the overview of the bill by the Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, stakeholders took turn to comment and raise issues concerning the bill.

When it got to the turn of Abdussalam who is a member of the Provision Stores Association of Nigeria (PSAN) and a store owner at Mushin area, he charged the lawmakers to go to the markets and see things for themselves, saying a lot need to be done in addressing the rights of consumers.

While displaying some items to back his claim, he explained that he had approached the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA) over alleged counterfeit products for the past six months to address the complaint of his association.

Abdussalam went further to appeal to the state government to come to the aid of Stores Owners Association, alleging that the items displayed lack geuineness to guarantee safety for consumers.

He also alleged that it had been difficult for business owners to start up businesses, saying the interest of 15 percent on loan as given by Lagos State Employment Trust Fund was too high.

In a swift reaction,, the Deputy Speaker, Hon Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni who spoke on behalf of the Speaker, Rt. (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa said: “We are not here so that you can praise us, we are here to look into your complaints. You can make complaint, should any agency, be it LASCOPA or any other agencies be found wanting, we have the power to sanction anyone of them.”

He, however, cautioned Abdussalam over his comment that LSETF collects 15 percent as interest on loans of N250,000 to start up a business, saying he ought to get his fact right.

The Deputy Speaker explained that no agency of government in Lagos State, including LSETF, collects beyond 5 percent as administrative fee.

Hurriedly speaking over the allegation, Agunbiade said the claim by Abdulssalam was not tenable.

Also, the Chairman, House Committee on Commerce and Industry, Hon Bisi Yusuff, who came for clarification, said: “I’m a good listener. For the clarity of your claim, were you attended to at LASCOPA or not?”

Abdussalam responded in the affirmative and with this response, Yusuff said that settled the case.

Also reacting, General Manager of LASCOPA, Mr Afolabi Solebo said: “The man was being economical with the truth. The matter he mentioned had been on ground for long and the manufacturers were invited and they came.

“Why should he come and tell members of the public that we didn’t handle it well. We ensured that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and marketers make sure that the products coming into the state are verified as suitable for consumption.

“We attended to him as a consumer, I wonder why he is also here today. Under normal circumstances, some of those products are not supposed to be in the market.”

Earlier, Chairman of LASCOPA, Mrs Funmi Falana commended the House for the proactive measure in repealing the law.

She however pointed out that all bottled plastic drinks in the state should have their temperature conspicuously displayed for verification.

She also appealed that the Board for the Agency should include a representative of National Agency for Foods, Drugs and Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to be of inherent benefit in guarding against hazardous consumption.

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