The Abuja office of Nigeria’s Accountant General, Ahmed Idris, was engulfed in flames early Wednesday morning. Eyewitness reports on Twitter (with videos) showed how fire gutted some parts of the building which is located beside the FCT Police Command in Garki, Abuja.
— micsy__ (@micsy__) April 8, 2020
Although it was not initially clear what caused the fire outbreak, Nairametrics later gathered that it started when an air conditioner began sparking somewhere around the third floor. The fire then quickly spread towards the top floors where the AGF’s office is situated.
A statement that was posted hours later on the official Twitter handle of Nigeria’s Federal Fire Service gave a situation report of the incident. According to the statement, the fire was extinguished within an hour after it began, thereby preventing total damage to the building. However, despite the “prompt response” of the fire service, pictures depicting the aftermath of the inferno showed significant damages.
The Controller General commended fire fighters of the Federal Fire Service, and other response agencies whose combined efforts led to extinguishing the Fire outbreak at Treasury House (OAGF) Abuja, within 45 minutes, averting the disastrous destruction of the building. pic.twitter.com/kKHYwFBO9W
— Federal Fire Service (@Fedfireng) April 8, 2020
In the meantime, the fire incident has elicited various responses from Nigerians, many of whom are suspicious of the circumstances surrounding it. As you may well know, government workers were supposed to be at home observing the lockdown order that was earlier issued by President Muhammadu Buhari. What this means, therefore, is that the building was supposed to be closed, with all electrical appliances disconnected. This could have helped avoid any fire outbreak.
But was this the case? Well, maybe or maybe not. It could as well be that something fishy actually happened to cause the fire, as theorised by Onyekachi Uka, one of those who commented on the subject matter on Twitter.
Let the whole world hear and take note that president Muhammadu Buhari has taken our money from the treasury and ask his men to put on fire in the treasury house ,so that documents will be burnt
The will keep on… https://t.co/GoxCm8RCI9
— ONYEKACHI UKA (@ONYEKACHIUKA2) April 9, 2020
Popular Nigerian social/political commentator, Dr Joe Abbah, also weighed in on the matter. Reacting specifically to other Nigerians like Onyekachi Uka who believed that the fire was a mischievous coverup, he clarified that Nigeria does not keep money at the Accountant General’s Office.
In case you didn’t know, no money is kept in the Office of the Accountant General. Monies are kept in the Central Bank and the OAGF’s electronic data is backed up offsite in one of the states. Don’t worry about #COVIDー19 money. Worry instead about the safety of fellow Nigerians
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) April 8, 2020
In the meantime, SERAP (Socio-Economic Right And Accountability Project) has called for an immediate investigation into the fire incident. A message posted on the pressure group’s official Twitter said:
“BREAKING: We’re calling on President Buhari to order a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the fire which razed most parts of the office of Nigeria’s Accountant General in Abuja today; and to publish its findings. If deliberate, those involved must be punished.”
BREAKING: We're calling on President Buhari to order a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the fire which razed most parts of the office of Nigeria’s Accountant General in Abuja today; and to publish its findings.
If deliberate, those involved must be punished.
— SERAP (@SERAPNigeria) April 8, 2020
In the aftermath of the fire incident, some government officials have assured Nigerians that there is no cause for alarm. According to them, Nigeria did not lose money or important documents to the fire, as speculated by some. Senator Solomon O Adeola said this on Twitter:
I was at the Treasury House,Office of Accountant General of the Federation that was gutted by fire. All damage documents are retrievable as they are on Server as well as already archived and online real time. No cause for Alarm @Ebiwali_ @NGRSenate @DrAhmadLawan @FinMinNigeria pic.twitter.com/PNz4IvdJS8
— Solomon O. Adeola (@YAYIAdeola) April 8, 2020