In a move aimed at ensuring the right of consumers in Lagos, the state government has established Lagos State Consumer Protection (LASCOPA). The establishment of the agency followed the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency bill passed into law by the Lagos State House of Assembly and assented to in 2015. The state government said at the weekend that the coming into being of the agency would ensure speedy redress of consumer complaints through negotiation, mediation or conciliation.
To ensure that the agency hits the ground running, the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has appointed Olufunmilola Falana, wife of the renowned human rights activist, Femi Falana, as board chairman of the new agency.
Other members of the board as approved by the governor include a legal official from the state ministry of justice, representatives of the organised private sector, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), among others.
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Under the law establishing the agency, a convict would be mandated to pay an amount of money the court considers as appropriate compensation in respect of any loss or damage to a consumer whose right has been infringed on. The law also gives the agency the power to hold and dispose of property whether moveable or immovable to exercise its functions under the law. The government believed that the establishment of this agency would prevent the circulation of any product, which constitutes an imminent public hazard; protect the rights of consumers where negotiation, conciliation or mediation fails.
Some other functions of the agency are “Cause an offending firm, company, trade association or individual to compensate or provide relief to injured consumers or communities as a result of adverse effects of harmful products.”
“Encourage trade, Industry and professional associations to develop and enforce in their various fields, quality standards designed to safeguard the interest of consumers, cause necessary tests to be conducted where necessary on a product and encourage the formation of voluntary consumer groups or associations for the interest of the consumers.”