Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the federal government to fix the price of goods and petroleum products in Nigeria in accordance with Section 4 of the Price Control Act within seven days from Wednesday.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa gave the order while delivering judgement in a suit filed by a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), against the Price Control Board and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to compel the federal government to fix prices of some commodities in order to check high cost of good and services in the country.
LEADERSHIP reports that there were protests in some cities over rising cost of living and government’s apparent inability to arrest the biting situation.
The Judge specifically directed the federal government to fix the prices of milk, flour, salt, sugar, bicycles and their spare parts, matches, motorcycles and their spare parts, motor vehicles and their spare parts, as well as petroleum products, which include: diesel, petrol and kerosene.
The court granted all the reliefs sought by the senior lawyer following the failure of the Respondents in the suit to respond to the suit after they were served by the plaintiff.
Falana had asked the court to determine whether by Section 4 of the Price Control Act, the first Respondent (Price Control Board) was carrying out its statutory duty to impose a price on any good of the kinds specified in the First Schedule to the Price Control Act.
He also urged the court for a declaration that by virtue of Section 4 of the Price Control Act, the Respondents 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, premium motor spirit (petrol) and kerosene.
The Applicant (Falana) further prayed the court for a declaration that the failure or refusal of the Respondents 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 and kerosene was illegal as it offends the provision of Section 4 of the Price Control Act, Cap, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Falana also demanded an order directing the Respondents to fix the prices of the products and commodities not later than seven days after the delivery of the judgement of the Honourable Court.
When the case was called on Wednesday, Falana told the judge that the case was filed in May 2023 and that the Respondents had been served with the processes but they have refused and failed to file any response by way of counter affidavit.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought since there was no objection from the Respondents.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa, after listening to the senior lawyer, granted all the reliefs contained in the motion paper as prayed by Falana.
Justice Allagoa held that, “I have heard the applicant, Femi Falana, and I have also discovered that despite the service of the originating motion on the respondents namely Attorney-General of the Federation and the Price Control Board, there’s no opposition to it by way of a counter affidavit, which in law means that all the facts deposed to in the affidavit attached to the originating motion are all deemed admitted.
In an affidavit filed in support of the motion deposed to by a lawyer in Falana’s chambers, Taiwo Olawanle, he stated that the first Respondent, the Price Control Board, was established by the Price Control Act, and it is saddled with the responsibility to fix price on goods to stabilise the general price level, prevention of hoarding of goods, protection of customers from exorbitant prices, among others.