The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Lawal Pedro, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, have warned lawyers to desist from assisting clients to punish landlords.
They gave this admonition at the advocacy program themed, “Building Collapse and Application of Punitive Laws in Lagos State,” organised by the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Ikeja Cell, which was held in Lagos State recently.
The Attorney-General of the state said the minute issue of landlord and tenancy should not last more than 60 days in court.
He said, “The tenant is not paying rent within that span, neither is he leaving the house, and they go to court and the matter ends up staying in court up to 5 years, how do we want to encourage investments?
“The Nigerian Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice are going to collaborate to ensure we have the adequate laws written out so that everybody would be aware of what is required, also the Ministry of Justice would look into ensuring that the reports of building collapse would be worked on. In addition, we would try as much as possible to address the issue of self-help that people usually resort to in recovery of rent, recovery of debt, and recovery of possession, and the reason is that the justice system is slow. Our objective is to ensure that cases in the state, in collaboration with the judiciary, would not last more than 24 months in court. “
While the Senior Advocate of Nigeria appealed to lawyers to not assist clients in punishing landlords.
He said, “I want to warn lawyers, do not assist clients to punish landlords. Somebody came to my office yesterday, he lost a case at the Magistrate court and wanted to appeal, I asked him if he had been paying his rent, and he said he had not paid his rent for the past two years, so he wanted me to appeal for him knowing that the case would go there. For us as lawyers, we must be very careful, so that we are not agents of impunity. What they now do in Lagos, out of frustration, they go to the Ministry of Environment to complain that the building would collapse, and officials who would not do their investigation would now put some notice there, citing the building for demolition, to the end that tenants can find their way, some landlords also pay to have the roof of a house remove in order to chase away the tenant.
“Again, it is important to get the approval of the Ministry of Physical Planning before doing anything to your house, approval is essential because the adjustment you are carrying out may be dangerous to the community Hence you cannot dig a borehole or cut a tree in your compound without an approval.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Physical Planning, Olatunji Odunlami, asserted that negligence had been identified as the root cause of building collapse.
He said, “Regulation is very important, when regulatory activities are absent, anything goes. In addition, looking at most of the planning and building laws and regulations in Nigeria, you would realise that only one or two sections are devoted to punishments, the latter parts are devoted in detail to processes and procedures that are directed at preventing building collapse, I submit that it is the failure of highly productive members that have resulted in building collapse.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.