By Favour Nnabugwu
The Federal Fire Service has indicated that it would begin inspection of public buildings for compliance with its compulsory with its policy on public building insurance.
The Controller-General of the Service, Mr Joseph Anebi, at a meeting with the National Insurance Commission and the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) in Abuja, last week, said the agency is making effort to make sure that the huge losses to lives and property due to lack of insurance in the events of fire incidents at public buildings are minimized.
He stated: “Where laws exist and nothing is done to enforce it, then you cannot hold people responsible. We need full compliance, especially from the government. This will give us relieve because the government is not left out.”
Anebi expressed concern over attitude to insurance particularly on public buildings, decrying the huge loss of lives and property to the country.
“We are all aware of the havoc that fire has caused in this nation and most affected buildings were not insured,” he stated.
He said that insurance industry and Nigeria Fire Service are stakeholders of risk management while noting that Section 48 and 89 of the national fire code give the service the power to carry out insurance inspection and request for insurance certificate from public property owners.
He said the Service is ready to enforce its executive power requesting to see insurance papers for public buildings. “We want to see how we can carry out the executive aspect of it,” he stated.
Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari, said that insurance industry is not happy to see buildings in flames most especially when they have no insurance policy to enable them get compensation.
“We can minimize the effect of those fire incidents such that economic activities can continue.”
According to Kari, Section 65 (4) of the Insurance Act, 2003 provides that the insurance industry, through the regulator, supports the activities of Fire Service.
“This is supposed to be done through the regulator’s contribution of part of the insurance premium that was paid to fire underwriters,” he said.
Kari said since 2003 the section of the law was not fully implemented, adding that with the recent consultations, an agreement on a way forward had been reached.
“We have resolved to start afresh from January, 2017 to ensure insurance companies clarify their returns vis-a-vis the premium income they make from insurances of public buildings.”
“We have also agreed for the industry to make contribution to the fire funds. We will co-opt the fire services and the insurance association through the NIA to manage the funds for the benefit and development of fire service across the nation.”
Kari said that anyone who failed to respect the law would “face severe consequences by the enforcement agency which in this case is the fire service.
Speaking on behalf of insurance operators in the country, chairman of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Mr Eddie Efekoha, said the sector has agreed to make their contributions to the fire service.
He stated: “We have also agreed for the insurance industry to make contributions to the fire service and to manage the funds for the benefits of the fire service. We have agreed to provide clarity as to what concerns the public, failure to respect the law will be dealt with by the enforcement agency which is in this case, the fire service agency.”
“I do believe that fire insurance will soon be what everyone will look forward to. There will be no challenge at all in the enforcement of this act.”