Lagos Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has offered to give free legal services to the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) to stem the rising wave of collapse buildings in Nigeria.
Falana, who was a keynote Speaker at the 51st Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) in Lagos, said the major cause of building collapse in Nigeria was the presence of quacks in the industry.
Unlike the legal profession in Nigeria, which had ensured that fake lawyers were arrested and prosecuted from time to time, the building profession had not taken any bold step to rid its rank of quacks who had been dominating the building industry.
In his speech tagged: ‘Engagement of only registered builders for managing building production and construction: keeping the Law and society safe’, Falana said that due to negligence of regulatory agencies and the relevant professional bodies, the building industry, “has been invaded by quacks who operate with impunity.”
He urged professional builders to take up the challenge to end quackery by ensuring that private and public buildings are constructed by registered builders.
He advised them to set up a joint monitoring group to ensure that quacks in the construction industry were arrested and prosecuted by the police for the contravention of relevant building codes, adding that “the official in the Ministry of Urban Development who grants illegal building approvals should be exposed and prosecuted.”
He said am the law, the owner of a collapsed building and the quacks involved in the construction are liable to be prosecuted for criminal negligence.
According to him, the victims, both the dead and the injured, were entitled to claim special, general and aggravated damages.
He lamented that in the past 44 years, over 461 buildings had collapsed in Nigeria, while 1090 people lost their lives, according to available statistics.
He recalled that the National Building Code 2006 had been reviewed, but that the Federal Government had not implemented it.
He urged the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria to take the advantage of the Builders Registration Act Cap B13 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Researched Executive Order No 5 of 2018 to take control of the building industry.
In his welcome address, the president of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Kunle Awobodu, advised professionals in the construction industry to keep their roles and know their limitations, adding that the building delivery process flourish on team work, where each professional should be made accountable in his or her competence.
Awobodu said there was a synergy the NIOB had with Femi Falana Chambers and other lawyers, stressing, “We are ready to prosecute any quack or any builder who does not conform to the laid down standard.”
He urged the government at all levels to ensure building plan approval were handled by a registered builder . who would be accountable for the success or otherwise of the building project, adding, “if he operates below standard, his license could be withdrawn by the Nigerian Council of Registered Builders.”