Nigeria News
Senate Organises Public Hearing on Collapsed Buildings, Passes Corporate Manslaughter Bill


Concerned by the increasing spate of collapsed buildings in different parts of the country, the Senate yesterday mandated its committee on land, housing and urban development to organise what it described as a sensitisation public hearing on the incidents.

The chamber also passed a Corporate Manslaughter Bill with N500 million fine as punishment for an organisation found guilty of manslaughter and seven years imprisonment for an individual found to be an accomplice in corporate manslaughter.

The chamber, which observed a minute silence in honour of the 115 victims of the collapsed portion of the Synagogue Church Church of All Nations  in Lagos and other victims of collapsed buildings across the country, also advised the federal and state ministries of housing, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Council of Regulators of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and other regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with building regulations.

The parliament also urged emergency agencies such as National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), fire service, Red Cross, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Army as well as Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), to always be at alert in their rescue operations and consequently facilitating rescue efforts during such incidents.

The resolutions followed a motion by SenatorAbdulmumin Hassan (Jigawa South-west), who described incessant cases of collapsed buildings in Nigeria in recent times as not only alarming but also horrifying, unfortunate and worrisome.

According to him, the menace of collapsed buildings especially in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Port Harcourt has resulted in the destruction of several lives as well as property worth billions of naira adding that in the last two years, statistics have shown that at least three or four buildings collapse in most major cities of Nigeria.

He also claimed that 60 per cent of such structures were built without authorisation, submitting also that 85 per cent of building materials being used for construction in the country are sub-standard with over 80 per cent of such materials imported into Nigeria.

Hassan argued that other factors responsible for collapse of buildings included lack of supervision, population density, lack of professional competence and engagement of quacks; compromise as a result of bribery and corruption and poor maintenance of such buildings.

He therefore submitted that if the lives and property of many Nigerians would be saved from further needless destruction, there is no better time to act on the ugly menace than now.

Also speaking on the motion, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, attributed one of the reasons for the menace to the attitude of professionals such as architects, builders and structural engineers delving into building aspects where they lack competence.
He also blamed part of the menace on regulators whom he accused of failing in their responsibilities as he advocated the withdrawal of licences of such professionals.

In a related development, the Senate yesterday passed Corporate Manslaughter Bill whose objectives, among others, are to punish corporate bodies, entities and agencies for acts of negligence, dereliction of duty or gross incompetence which result in the death of any person and as well punish any employer or employee for acts of sabotage which lead to the destruction of human lives.

The bill, which was sponsored by the late Senator Pius Ewherido, is also meant to ensure that organisations are cautious in the discharge of their duties with a view to preventing loss of lives.

While an organisation convicted of corporate manslaughter is liable to a fine ranging between N500,000 and N500 million depending on such organisation’s economic and social profiles, an individual found to be complicit in corporate manslaughter will be liable to terms of imprisonment from three to seven years.

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