I have always been concerned over the legislative position on very sensitive issues that impact so greatly in the lives of every Nigerian citizen and the country at large, in very recent times there seems to be a little spike of reawakening on the part of our legislators to boldly initiate these very sensitive bills that will in a large extent protect and create safety and security in all Nigeria workplaces. The first to come in this light was the passing of the Nigeria Occupational Health and Safety Bill in September, 2012 by the Nigerian Senate. We are still hoping and believing the final review of that bill should have been completed by now to allow the President assent to this bill so it can become a part of Nigerian law. Check through my previous articles for details on the Nigeria Occupational Health and Safety Bill.
I am so elated by this “CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER BILL” initiated by Senator Pius Ewherido. Kindly read through the publication in italics and highlights as reported by Dapo Falade, an Abuja correspondence of The Nigeria Tribune Newspapers.
“A bill seeking to become an act to make provisions creating the offence of corporate manslaughter and for matters incidental thereto passed through the second reading at the plenary of the Senate on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Pius Ewherido, passed through its first reading on September 20, 2012. In his lead debate, Ewherido, representing Delta Central, said the bill sought to create the offences of manslaughter to corporate organisations and agencies culpable for their wilful acts of negligence and dereliction of duty which eventually caused the death of a person.
He also said the bill, aimed at making it accessory to corporate manslaughter for persons who, while working with corporate bodies and agencies, failed, negligently performed and or sabotage their employers, resulting in the death of a person.
He said the provision of the bill was in line with Section 308 of the Criminal Code. The section referred to stated, “except as hereinafter set forth, any person who causes the death of another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever is deemed to have killed that other person.”
He said the bill sought to fill the lacunae created by the restrictive definitions of killing in Sections 316 and 317 of the Criminal Code, when viewed against the broad definition in Section 308.
However, deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Senator Paulinus Igwe, kicked against the proposed bill, saying that it contradicted existing legislation.
Senator Magnus Abe joined some of his other colleagues to support the bill, saying that its emergence was timely.
In his remark, Senate President, David Mark, called on the legislators to give room for public hearing to enable widespread participation in the debate. The bill was thereafter referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary for further legislative action.
I got a little worried on the position of the deputy Senate President and a few of this other colleagues on this matter of great importance to Nigeria as a people. It is not a matter of contradicting existing legislations; it should be looked at from the point of safety and security for the Nigerian employee. You can never imagine how much the country looses annually by work related deaths and even severe occupational accidents that gets the victims incapacitated. Quantify it by the victims’ educational qualifications, work experience and the number of people that look up to him for their daily bread and even financial support to acquire education and a lot of other variables.
Have you ever imagined the feeling and the look on the face of an 80 years old retiree and his 75 years old wife when you come to break the sad news to them that their son got trapped in a machine while at work and he died on the spot? Have you even thought of an old man whose health is failing but has a life line through his only surviving son that pays his father’s monthly medical bill and now the same son has just been drowned as a result of an oil and gas platform that has just collapsed out of proper maintenance and absence of processes? Have you also imagined the pain you cause in a heart of a beloved wife loved exceedingly by her husband who she sees as her everything, she kisses her husband before he lives for work every morning and on this fateful day she got a call only to be told her husband was accidentally beheaded by a faulty machine that was being managed to meet production target? Have you imagined the heart break? Can you imagine the shine and smile you took out of a family? Who cares afterwards for the young woman who has been thrown into early widowhood she was never prepared for? Whoever bothers about the fate of the children and what becomes of them? Wouldn’t they drop out of school if they cannot meet the exorbitantly high bills we pay to acquire education in Nigeria? Will they grow up to love this society and country that never protected their father let alone their innocent lives? Will they express love to Nigeria and Nigerians or inflict everyone with pain? Remember, the doors we resfuse to shut during the day, criminals will certainly use same doors into our homes at night to attack us when we need a happy night rest the most.
We have had many cases of corporate manslaughter in Nigeria and the perpetuators go unpunished. When a man dies in the workplace out of negligence on the part of his employer by not making adequate provisions for health, safety and security of the employees, it is regarded as man slaughter and i think provision should be made within the ambit of the law for adequate punishment and of course good enough compensation for the family of the victims. This is what we are talking about and this is the law.
The workman did not die, the workman was killed.
Workplace safety brings cheers, workplace accident brings tears.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.