Cross River ISPON ‘Shocked’ By Calabar Electrocution

Cross River ISPON ‘Shocked’ By Calabar Electrocution

John Ogunsemore

The Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), Cross River State Branch has bemoaned the electrocution of multiple persons at a football viewing centre in Nyangasang area of the state capital on Tuesday, April 18.

In a position letter signed by the Branch Chairman, Dr Uffia Ogo and sent to Safety Record Newspaper, the branch blamed the incidence on lack of inculcation of safety into the planning of high tension and electricity cables in the country.

Read the full statement below:


We at ISPON CRS branch had like all residents of Calabar and the nation in general learnt with marked shock news of the electrocution of several individuals at Nyangasang area of CALABAR Municipal on 18th April 2017 while watching a football match. In spite of the several versions of event making the rounds especially on social media circle, and the varying number of FATs, we believe that even a single death from an incidence such as this should spark public debate and policy actions by government to forestall against future reoccurrence. We would like first and foremost to bring two significant and relevant principles of law, environmental law that we believe has a direct bearing on this incident. There are the preventive and precautionary principles.

The preventive principle advocates that attempts should be made by the producer, herein referred to as Electricity Transmission Company of Nigeria, to mitigate and/or avoid completely the pollution of the environment or injury to individuals in the course of production.

The precautionary principle denotes that where there is sufficient grounds for believing that an activity is likely to cause threats of serious and irreversible damage to health of the environment and of people, measures must be taken for example, to reduce or to prevent that activity or that product even when there is no fully conclusive evidence of a causal link between that activity or product and the feared consequences.

Clearly both principles invest in clear and in no uncertain terms responsibility on the producer to produce in such a way as its processes of production do not result to damage to the environment or injury to persons. This rule is further clarified in the English common law rule in Rylands Vs Fletcher where it was established thus;

“A person who for his own purpose, and in the course of a non-natural user of his land, brings on his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes must keep it at his peril and if he does not do so, he is prima facie answerable for all the damages which is the consequences of its escape.’’

Similarly, in the case Donoghue Vs Stevenson, Lord Atkins of the English court of appeal held that;

“You must reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor. Who then in law is my neighbor? The answer seems to be a persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have in contemplation as being affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in questions”

Both decisions where founded on the tort of negligence and the Nigerian court of appeal (Benin Division) expounded the law in this direction in the case of Shell British Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited Vs Chief Joel Anaro & 12 others where Rowland JCA held that;

“It is clear therefore that a person who is in possession or in control of land (such as appellant herein) and keeps on such land petroleum products “exist under the rule in Rylands Vs Fletcher”. It must be said also that the establishment of crude oil is clearly a non-natural user of land”

From these judicial background, we at ISPON CRS Branch believe the establishment of high tension electricity power lines is without doubt, a non-natural use of land and thus, the rule in Ryland Vs Fletcher does hold in this electrocution case, when it is established however, that the house on which the power lines fell on was legitimately erected in accordance with all relevant town planning laws as exist in the state.

It is our submission therefore that safety be inculcated into electricity generation, transmission and distribution across the country. Where and when it exists, it has to be firmed to ensure adequate monitoring, evaluation and inspection of electrical power installations by electricity companies across the country.

Since power transmission lines are surfaced run in the country on three platforms; steel, concrete and wood, a material integrity test should be conducted on a quarterly basis to ensure that these support platforms for power lines are strong enough to bear the full brunt of the elements especially the periodic bush fires.

Finally, we believe more than anything else that residence, and indeed all human activities within a mile radius of high tension/voltage electricity lines should be discouraged. These include but not limited to markets, schools, worship centres, public recreational facilities etc. should be relocated further away from these power lines where and when they already exist.

At our branch, we will continue to bring issues of occupational health, safety and environment to public domain for discussions, deliberations through our public enlightenment campaign in the various media. This we are confident will educate the public on health, safety and environment as a critical element in Nigeria’s drive for industrial development at all levels.

  1. UFFIA OGO Mispn-Chairman