By Lucy Nwachukwu
Abuja – The Association for Public Policy Analysis (APPA) has urged the Federal Government and various stakeholders to support the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to protect the rights of Nigerian e-consumers.
The association made the call in a communiqué by the President of APPA, Mr Princewill Okorie, on Sunday in Abuja.
The communiqué was the outcome of the E-Commerce Consumer Protection Forum organised by the association in Abuja.
E-Commerce is a business transaction conducted electronically on the internet and has many advantages compared to conventional methods.
E-Consumers are consumers that transact businesses electronically.
According to Okorie, the derivative principles of state policy in the constitution and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights give reasons for protecting e-consumers right.
“There have been agitations by consumers, especially those who conduct businesses electronically (e-consumers) on the nature of services they receive from electricity, telecommunication and bank service providers.
“These service providers are in the habit of exploiting consumers thereby abusing their fundamental rights as citizens.
“Also, regulators, rather than protect consumers, connive with service providers to exploit unsuspecting consumers and this should be seen as an affront on government’s determination to protect her citizens and fight corruption.
“Hence, the Federal Ministry of Justice and National Human Rights Commission should support CPC in protecting the rights of Nigerian e-consumers.
Okorie urged CPC to publicise the principles it agreed on with on-line marketers to guide their operations for e-consumers protection and ensure regulators respond to e-consumer offenses.
He also called on CPC to encourage the formation of voluntary consumer groups for consumers’ well-being, as existence of such groups would enhance advocacy for enforcement, monitoring and evaluation of regulators.
He said the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) should set up a committee to take e-consumers enlightenment to all the political wards in the council.
He said AMAC should also generate consumer complaints from the various wards as it concerned electricity, banking and telecommunication to enable CPC resolve the complaints.
“ Local Government Councils as the third tier of government closer to the grassroots should hold E-Consumer Protection Forum for their citizens as a strategy to encourage their participation in digital business.
“This will enlighten them on their rights and prevent exploitation and conflict between the citizens and service providers.
“The National Assembly should review the cyber crime and security law 2015, CPC Act 1992, the proposed Critical Infrastructure Bill, Electronic Transaction Protection Bill and Cyber Security and Information Protection Bill.
“They should also review the National internal Security Bill 2009, Electronic Commerce (provision of Legal Recognition) Bill, 2008, Electronic fraud (prohibition) Bill 2008 to incorporate e-consumer protection component.
“The Federal Government on its part should set up E-Consumers Regulatory Policy Enlightenment Committee to monitor regulatory Agencies in power, banking and telecommunication sectors.
“This is to ensure that they comply with consumer enlightenment and regulatory policy enforcement, so that sanctions shall be meted out to those who connive with service providers to short change Nigerian consumers,’’ Okorie said.