10th February, 2014
A new law which has been passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, western Nigeria has stipulated a prison term of three years or a fine of N500,000 for any resident of the state who makes a false emergency call to an agency of the state government handling such calls within the state.
The law, as passed by the House, also stipulates same punishment for any staff of the agency who uses the emergency lines for private or personal calls.
The law was passed after it scaled the third reading, to give legal backing to the state Emergency Command and Control Centre, regulates phone calls to the centre and provides for other connected purposes.
Section 18 (1) of the law , which has 25 sections, states: “any person who knowingly gives or causes to be given a false alarm to a person acting on behalf of the centre or who uses the emergency telephone lines in any way other than those stipulated (in the law) shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine of N500,000 or to imprisonment for a term of three years.
“In lieu of or in addition to any sentence imposed by virtue of this section, the court may order the offender to perform community service for such a period as the court may determine.
The law further states that in addition to these penalties, the offender would be forced to pay the agency whatever amount it spent carrying out its emergency services in response to the false call.
The law also states that the centre would have the responsibility of receiving emergency calls through 767 and 112 concerning any incident that requires attention. It would then process the information and inform relevant safety and emergency services providers within the state.
It would be funded through grants provided by the state government, grant-in-aid, gifts and donations from non-governmental organisations, as well as the international community.
However, the centre must make itself open to auditing at specific period of the year, the law states.
The composition of the board for the centre, according to the law, includes a chairman, who shall be an administrator with relevant professional qualification and experience, three members appointed from the public or private sectors and a general manager for the centre.
For the purpose of prosecuting false callers, the law gives power to the centre to demand for and receive call logs of the caller to ease sanctions, the law states.