The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, in collaboration with the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Ikeja Cell, is advocating for the prosecution of those responsible for building collapses in the country to put an end to this menace.
Identification and prosecution of offenders, the speakers said, would help mitigate the incessant building collapses in the country.
Speaking at the advocacy programme organised with the theme ‘Building Collapse and Application of Punitive Laws in Lagos State,’ Human Rights Lawyer Mr Femi Falana called on lawyers and builders to work together to prosecute individuals who violate building codes.
Furthermore, he urged the Lagos State Government to publish the final reports of all panels of inquiries into building collapses in the state.
‘In any building collapse in Lagos, lawyers are going to work with builders to bring perpetrators to justice,’ Falana said.
He blamed builders for allowing unqualified individuals to take over their jobs, saying the former have been too relaxed.
‘Many people putting up structures are not qualified. What are the builders doing? By law, you can’t practise law in Nigeria if you are not licenced. The building industry has its laws as well,’ he said.
Discussing the recent demolition exercise in the state, Falana mentioned that there is no law that allows the government to demolish any building without following due process.
He appealed to the government to always follow the law when needing to demolish any building.
He also emphasised the need for the building industry to support the climate change campaign, suggesting the importance of planting trees instead of building on every open space.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Lawal Pedro, outlined the state government’s efforts to prevent building collapses. He assured that the state government would collaborate with the NBA, Ikeja Branch, to make the regulations guiding building development in the state widely known.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Olatunji Odunlami, called on the Lagos State Government to engage the members of BCPG in monitoring buildings under construction all over the state to prevent building collapses. He mentioned that the government lacks the required manpower to monitor all building sites in the state.
The Chairman of NBA Ikeja Branch, Mr Seyi Olawumi, said the advocacy programme is essential to curbing the incessant building collapses in Lagos State.
‘The frequency of building collapses in Lagos State is deeply troubling, resulting in the loss of lives, property, and economic resources.
This has had a lasting impact on the community, and it is important that we come together to find solutions and enforce stringent laws that will deter negligent building practices,’ he said.
He partly attributed building collapses to the government’s lack of political will to enforce the laws as a deterrent.
Ikeja Local Government Cell Coordinator, BCPG, Alhaja Zulaiha Bolarinwa, said that despite several efforts by the Guild, building collapses have continued to occur at an alarming rate, hence the need to ensure that laws are enforced.
She stated that the advocacy was targeted at enforcers and other stakeholders to address the root causes of building collapses and impunity.
‘The professionals are here and ready to work as a team to make building collapses a thing of the past,’ she said.