The Lagos State Government has vowed to prosecute the owner or head of any school that refuses to be audited in the school safety audit programme instituted by the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSC).
The Director General of LSC, Hon. Hakeem Dickson made this known at a Stakeholder’s Meeting with heads of associations of private schools in the state which held at LCCI Conference Hall, Alausa, Ikeja on Thursday, March 15.
Dickson urged the school owners and heads to partake in the school safety audit programme or risk being prosecuted for non-compliance and jailed if found guilty in case of an accident.
He said, “This time, honestly, we are not joking; the owners of the school will go to jail.
“I will make sure that I send them to jail, because safety starts from the top, it does not start from the bottom.
“We need to take safety seriously, be in control. But if you don’t, the principal will go to jail, the proprietor and members of the management will go to jail.”
He further warned that the owners and heads will be held responsible for any case of children going missing in their schools.
Earlier, the LSC boss said that the meeting was called to use the instrumentality of the associations to reach the school owners and heads in order to intimate them with the state government’s resolution.
He lamented that despite adequate notice of the meeting given, only six of the 18 school associations in the state turned up for the meeting.
Dickson said, “Enough of non-compliance, because if anything happens, the next minute the governor will call us, and there is no school in the entire Lagos that does not belong to one association or the other.”
He disclosed that the result of a survey and safety audit conducted in some schools showed several unsatisfactory revelations.
The safety commission boss said that the revelations included constant construction and rehabilitation of buildings going on in schools without the knowledge of the commission and the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), and unsafe practices with commuting students through school bus.
Dickson cited the examples of a school in Ikosi where waste water from its compound flowed into a neighbouring compound and another school in Ibeju-Lekki which constructed a staircase without any guard rail and also engaged in unapproved construction.
He warned that such unsafe and unhealthy conditions would not be allowed to persist.
The LSC boss said, “Any school that refuses us this time to audit them, it won’t take me time to lock up the school.
“I will definitely lock up the school. I won’t wait for vacation period. That same day, I will lock the school so that children won’t be able to come the next day.
“It is time that we need to be strict on our auditing. Thank God that nothing has gone wrong in schools in Nigeria, but it is going to get to that if we do not start preparing right now.”
He disclosed that a similar meeting with the management of banks based in Lagos on why they needed to be audited produced better results.
Dickson said that the banks displayed so much enthusiasm that they were willing to be audited to the standard of the new ISO 45001 rather than the older OHSAS 18001 standard.
The School Safety Administrator for Lagos, Mr Dapo Taiwo, noted that school owners needed to know that they have responsibility for the safety of students, and hold employer responsibility for their staff, as well as “extended responsibility” for the visitors to their school, including parents, visitors and contractors.