Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has tasked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Police to enforce existing laws to prevent unauthorised importation and storage of firecrackers.
He also swore in Mrs. Oluseyi Josephine Williams as the seventeenth Head of Service in the State Public Service, noting that her emergence “represents a new paradigm” in the appointment to public offices.
But the governor called for the intervention of the police and customs service at the State House, Alausa after receiving a report of a tribunal set up on February 18 to investigate the root causes of firecracker explosion, which claimed at least one live, razed twelve houses and destroyed eleven vehicles.
He said the state government had intensified partnership with the men of the Nigerian Customs and the Nigerian Police Force to ensure greater enforcement of the existing laws to prevent and control unauthorised importation and storage of fireworks in the state and forestall avoidable fire accidents.
The governor said after the submission of the report, there “is more work to be done on our part on the report submitted by the tribunal. We will look into the content of the report, accept what we are able to accept and issue a white paper to declare the parts of the report that have been accepted by the government.”
“Due to the nature of the report, we will immediately set up a committee that will include the newly Head of Service (HOS), Mrs. Josephine Williams to look critically into the report in order to assist the state government to present a white paper on the submitted report,” he explained.
Giving insight into the report, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sunday Ishola, recommended that the state government should legislate on a new law that would control the storage and use of fireworks within the state.
He explained that the report “will forestall future occurrence. The law should also specify the date and location where fireworks can be used. This law is distinct from the law on the control of importation fireworks under the exclusive act, Cap E18 of 2004, which is a federal law.”
“The panel received a total of 18 memoranda. 15 witness summons were issued and served on witness to testify before the tribunal. Evidences were taken from 34 witnesses. And the tribunal visited the site to get on the spot assessment of the extent of damage cause by the fire,” the chairman added.
On the appointment of the new head of service, Fashola said the appointment is a bigger calling and urged all concerned to help her keep the oath of her office by praying for her and not putting pressure on her.
He said the new head of service “has heard her take oath from today that she will place public interest above her personal interest. She must refrain from those things as she has also sworn before God in our own presence that she will not act in any manner that is in conflict with the oath she has taken before God in our presence.”
The governor therefore wished Williams all the best of luck as she leads the public service of Lagos State, saying the hours will be long but that even the outgoing Head of Service, Prince Adeseye Ogunlewe can testify that the rewards are enduring.