ChristMAS FESTIVITIES: Grappling with Enforcement of Ban on Fireworks

22 Dec 2012

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Annually, during end of the year festivities like the Christmas and the new year, the police always come out to ban the use of fireworks. the ban never deter the youths from the act. Rebecca Adekunle and Tosin Ogundele examine the handicap by police to enforce the order

Lagos is still one of the interesting places to live in Nigeria, as a lot of work has been done by the Lagos state government to put residents and visitors in the festive mood. As the festival unfolds gradually, the state has embarked on extensive decorations of some areas.

This adds to the fact that the Lagos State government still has its heart on the decoration of the state and has continued to intensify efforts at landscaping and planting of flowers to create a green environment along the major roads in the state. And every year, different areas have been dedicated for the project as they are decorated to reflect the festive mood of Christmas.

On the other hand, Lagosians are not left out as they, in their own way, prepare the atmosphere for Christmas. The sales of different Christmas  paraphernalia like  caps, hats, interior decorations, lights and fireworks are all over the market. While some go for Christmas parties and other events, others feel in other to enjoy the season it is best to throw knock outs and other fireworks, because of the sounds and the beauty in its sparks.

Over the years, as festive period are being celebrated, ugly incident also occur as a result of fireworks popularly known as knock- out. This is said to have cause a lot of mishaps for some families. According to Mr Emeka Ben who narrated his experience with knock- out on December 31, 2010. On his way back from church, a boy mistakenly threw a knock-out at him causing him a serious injury which almost ended in his leg amputated. Looking back now, he said “my dear it was not a nice experience, thanks be to God who saved me”.
Also Mr Collins Ike, who thinks using fireworks during festive period, especially Christmas and New Year creates a kind of amusement explained that some people use it carelessly which might cause a huge damage in the community. He shared the story of his aunt who is a victim of knock out. He said “my aunt almost got her house burnt down because of this banger. A knock-out was thrown into her compound and then it hopped into her room, while she was in the kitchen. It burnt a part of her rug. Thank God for her neighbours who noticed and assisted her in putting off the fire.”

In other to eradicate such tragic stories, the police force passed a law banning the use of knock-outs or any firework and if need be permission should be taken. But notwithstanding people still throw knock outs which is very dangerous.
The question now is this: is this law still in forced? Speaking with Mr Ozoani D.C, the Deputy Police Public Relation Officer as to this issue, he said: “The ban on knock-out is real and there are reasons which lead to the ban of these fireworks. One of the  major reasons that led to the enforcement of this law, is that it sound like gun shots. Criminals, especially armed robber, use this to carry out their atrocities to create panic in the mind of the people living in that area. He also said another major reason why the knock-out was ban was because it is very dangerous throwing that kind of firework in a place where people live, especially places that are inflammable. As at last year, the people of Idumagbo suffered a serious fire incident due to the fact that a ware-house, where the fireworks were stored inflamed  and burnt down the warehouse and a number of  other houses which rendered a lot of people homeless.

“The police are charged with a lot of responsibilities and as we all know that it is the duty of the police to make sure that this ban is enforced, but we cannot be every at a time. Police are doing their best to make sure that the idea of throwing knock-out is eradicated totally in Lagos and by doing this we have sent a lot of patrol teams to arrest anybody caught selling knock-out to the youths and also to arrest those throwing the firework.”

He went further, to say that, “The security of a community does not lie only in the hands of the Police or any law enforcement “agency and this is where civilians should assist us by reporting whosoever is selling or throwing this firework to any nearby police station for proper prosecution.”

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