18 March 2019

Nigeria: Collapsed Buildings - SERAP Urges Lagos, Oyo to Compensate Victims

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has appealed to Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode and his Oyo State counterpart, Abiola Ajimobi, to pay compensation to the victims of last week's two deadly building collapse in their states.

SERAP also called on the two states to ensure the access of the victims and their families to effective remedies in a transparent manner, specifically, access to justice and make an undertaking that such incidents won't happen again

The group further asked the governors to act decisively on their commitments to do everything within their powers to prevent more of such tragedies and "to bring to justice those responsible, to serve as a deterrent and end the negligence at which many are carrying out their duties."

SERAP, which made these demands in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday through its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said that the tragedies point to weak enforcement of building regulations and oversight by the two states and stressed the urgent need for effective action and reforms.

It stated that "the governments of Lagos and Oyo States must take immediate action to address the numerous ongoing human rights impacts of the deadly and catastrophic building collapse in their respective states, including by taking meaningful steps to avoid further damage to the human rights of the people affected.

"SERAP is concerned that the responses so far by the governments of Lagos and Oyo States have been insufficient to deal with the massive extent of the human costs of the incidents.

"These incidents come as a tragic reminder of the mismanagement, weakness in the regulatory and monitoring regime. Schools should be a sanctuary - a place where children can learn, develop and play with their classmates, and prepare for their future lives in society. The collapse of school building due to weak enforcement regulations or corruption is an implicit attack on the right of Nigerian children to education, life, and human dignity.

Such a situation creates an environment of fear and severely diminishes the quality of children's education.

"The tragedies demand accountability and both Lagos and Oyo States should accept responsibility for these incidents; promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate exactly how they happened, and publicly apologise to the victims, their families and Nigerians.

"Building developers and contractors can only be properly held to account if the two states do the right thing for the harm they have caused," Oluwadare said.

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