It appears Nigerians now believe that sudden infernos that occur in government edifice are deliberately triggered to misplace records and hamper investigations of corrupt practices in government agencies.
Cross sections of Nigerians say they find it ridiculous to imagine that the fire incidents usually occur when there are moves to probe government institutions.
The question in the heart and mind of many is, why do we always have sudden fire outbreaks either start from or eventually affecting the finance or accounting department?
Here is a compendium of some of the fire incident recorded in government-owned agencies and financial institutions in Nigeria
NITEL Fire Of 1983 In Lagos
A trip down memory lane revealed in 1983 that the NITEL building which was considered the tallest building under the ministry of communications at that time was deliberately set ablaze to end plans to investigate embezzlement and financial misappropriation.
On the 24th of January 1983, Nigerians helplessly watched the inferno consume what was considered a high rising symbol of development in the nation been brought down to rubble.
A probe into the financial spending and records of the Ministry of communications came to an abrupt end when fire erased records in the account section. Reports in Media revealed that the fire was triggered by bombs that exploded the same time on the third floor and top floor. Sadly two people lost their lives.
However, an interesting twist to this is that audit began the previous year in 1982 and was trailed by threats by unknown persons to burn the building before the plan was carried out, though firefighters were stationed at the edifice for months to prevent such from happening. The Firefighters were withdrawn in December 1982 and by January 1983; the tower which was a beautiful sight to behold left much to be desired. The senior fire fighting official was alleged to have collected financial gratification to the tune of $75,000 to allow the dastardly plan to succeed.
Mamman Kotangora House Fire in Lagos
In 2015 the popular Kotangora house in Marina Lagos was engulfed by fire., The fire gutted 7 stories of the building and property of the Mortgage bank worth millions were lost. The 14 story building with so many offices played host to corporate entities like the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Mortgage Bank.
At that time the Federal Mortgage Bank was expected to submit a handover of all its transactions to the Muhammadu Buhari administration which took over power from incumbent. The fire was alleged to be a move to conceal evidence of unprecedented embezzlement.
In March of 2018, the Generator house at the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria in Abuja was engulfed by fire. The last floor of the building was said to have been saturated by fire causing panic in the area.
Security operatives were said to have prevented journalists who arrived at the scene to take pictures of the affected area. The CBN through a statement said
“Reports that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) head office building is on fire are false. Passers-by who saw a pall of exhaust from the generator house far away from the building mistook the exhaust for fire smoke.
The CBN maintains a total security system that triggers safety alarms in the presence of smoke and so all fire engines and personnel received the alert only to discover that it was an unusual pall of exhaust.“The affected generator has been rested and normal work has been uninterrupted, while the engineers are working to rectify the issues with the generator”
Accountant General’s office Fire
Two major departments in the Accountant General’s Office were destroyed by fire. One of which is said to be responsible for the processes of revenue sharing between the Federal, States and Local Government and other crucial payments.
Reportedly, the fourth and fifth floors were affected, where the accountant General has his office. The news of the fire ignites rage from Nigerians, giving the donations made by well-meaning Nigerians and corporate entities may allegedly be the root cause so they can siphon monies meant for the COVID intervention. But it was reported that the fire did not affect the data center.
The Accountant-General of the Federation Ahmed Idris explained that the fire started as a result of an electrical malfunction of the complex cooling system in the office housing some Capital Account documents, adding that the Server of the office where documents are electronically stored are intact and burnt documents can easily be retrieved.
Opposition coalition CUPP slammed the Government through a statement issued by its spokesperson Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere saying…
“After looting and stealing directly from the treasury and knowing that judgment day will come one day because of its magnitude of what has been stolen, the corona-virus lockdown provided the perfect opportunity to burn all the records to make future probe difficult but they forget that money payment records can still be traced from the Central Bank and Commercial banks when the time comes”
The Peoples Democratic Party on its part demanded a full-scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding what it considers as a “mysterious fire outbreak in critical offices”.
The spokesperson of the Party, Kola Ologbondiyan said
“Our party expresses shock that the fire incident came on the heels of our heightened calls for a forensic audit into the hazy oil subsidy regime of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for which trillions of Naira is being claimed to have been spent.
This is in addition to recent demands for an investigation into allegations of fraud and diversion of COVID-19 intervention funds as well as social investments program of the Buhari government since 2015”
Currently the National Assembly is riding on the gale of demands by stakeholders and has raised queries on spending in respect of social incentives program
When Will Fire Stop Burning
Why is the accounting or finance department always affected whenever there is a fire outbreak? Will an end come to the incessant inferno in public institutions which causes sadness and pains in the heart of citizens? Nigerians may one day wake up to the news that Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power is on fire and the accounting department was completely razed down.
Measures must be put in place to end fire fall in the account and finance department and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Is corruption fighting back?