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Reps move to establish National Public Safety Board

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The House of Representatives on resumption from the Christmas and New Year holiday is expected to commence debate on the general principles of a bill that seeks to establish the National Public Safety Board.

The Board when established is to formulate policies and programmes geared toward obviating danger to the general public assets such as: railways, airports, ports, canals, docks, wharves, piers, bridges, gasworks and their appurtenances and telegraphic, telephonic and other electrical signalling lines owned or operated by the Federal Government or any State Government across the country.

The private member bill sponsored by Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi seeks to ensure compliance with minimum standards and issue annual certificates as appropriate to Public Safety facilities in Nigeria.

In the bid to achieve its set objectives, Clause 2 of the proposed bill provides that the Board shall interface with National Assembly in creating legislation for National Safety laws for the protection of lives and to prevent the occurrence of disasters; ensure effective coordination of National Safety and disaster management for the protection of lives and property and enlighten and inform the public on matters relating to safety.

The Board is also expected to ensure ratification of African and global Charter on issues of public safety; create public awareness on the need to adhere to personal and public safety; control and prevent abuse of safety regulations in public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy; strategize and liaise with relevant safety agencies both in public and private sectors for rapid response to cases of safety violations; ensure the adherence of safety protocols in all sectors of the Nigerian socio-economic spheres with a view to preventing or mitigating manmade and natural disaster to manage National safety protocols and canvass international support for the harmonisation of global safety protocols.

As encapsulated in clause 3 of the bill seen by Nigerian Tribune, the Governing Board shall consist of Chairman who shall be a knowledgeable person on safety matters; Executive Secretary of the Board, representatives of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, National Disaster Management Agency (NEMA), office of the Attorney General of the Federation, while other members of the board shall also be appointed by the Minister as deemed necessary.

According to Clause 6 of the bill, the functions and powers of the national public safety board include: taking responsibility for the day-to-day running of the National Public Safety Board as outlined in the structures of the departments that make up the Board; coordinating the activities of Regional directorates and state commands; receive instructions from the government on policies that will enhance public safety; liaise with the National Assembly to enact and review laws that offer safety protection to all citizens and liaise with other relevant agency to formulate working documents for the operation of the Board.

The Board is also empowered to deal with any major issues regarding the violation of safety and apply appropriate sanctions or prosecute individuals or group violating safety rules; coordinate with private sector to enhance efficiency of safety laws and regulations in the economy; organise seminars symposia, lectures and sensitisations workshops for the public to imbibe the principles of safety in all activities; facilitate training and retraining of personnel in the commission to local and international safety programs to update them on global best practices; enhance the utilisation of data collation for effective national planning on public safety programs; carry out periodic sectorial safety audit to ensure compliance to safety guidelines.

In the bid to ensure effective funding of the Organisation, Clause 18 of the bill provides that: “A basket fund will be provided and maintained for the implementation of the board’s activities and programmes.

This fund shall comprise of: National Public Safety Annual Statutory Budgetary Allocation for Public Safety; Annual grants of not less than two percent of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Consolidated Revenue Fund from the Ministry Joint Account or any other similar account that may be operated Board; Allocation from the National Public Safety Provision fund as provided by the National Public Safety Act; and Grants and donation from development partners and philanthropists.

Clause 24 of the bill also provides for the establishment of Public Safety Management Information System which is a sub-set of the National Public Safety Board to guide strategic planning, management and operational functions of the Public Safety at all levels.

On the Enforcements and Penalties, clause 25 provides that: the “Board shall through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation determine penalties to individuals, corporate private organisations or Government agencies for violations of safety bylaws in the country.

“Such penalties shall include but not limited to the following: Individual violations shall attract a fine of not less than N50,000 or three months jail term or both; Corporate violations shall attract sealing of the affected firm or work place.

“A fine of N3 million or a 1 year jail term shall be imposed upon owners of such private organization; while governmental violations shall attract a reprimand or removal from office of Chief Executives of the offending organisation or government agency and violating officers of such agencies. Such officers shall be liable to prosecution for criminal conspiracy or negligence. A fine of N5 million which is deductible from consolidated revenue account of the violating agency.”

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