Mystery blaze rips Accountant-General’s office

  • PDP demands probe
  • Jonathan’s ex-aide alleges foul play

A mysterious fire has ripped through Nigeria’s treasury office on Wednesday, destroying two key departments, including the one that processes consolidated revenue sharing amongst the three tiers of the government.

The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, also known as Treasury House in Abuja suffered the blaze just before 11am, according to reports.

Videos shared on social media showed thick black smoke billowing from the building, which was largely empty occasioned by the nationwide shutdown of activities over the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Following the outbreak, fire fighters, policemen and other emergency management officers raced to the scene, and successfully contained the inferno within an hour, according to officials.

But two key offices were reportedly razed by the inferno before it was put out. The fourth and fifth floors were affected, according to some officials.

“The fire started at the fourth department where Federal, state and local government allocations and other crucial payments are processed and then found its way up to the fifth floor where the accountant-general has his office,” an official said.

The official said the fire started shortly before a meeting of senior management staff was scheduled to take place.

“We had to suspend a meeting we had scheduled for 11:a.m. via video conferencing,” the official was quoted as saying.

 “The fire did not affect our data centre, which is actually fully backed up,” another official said.

“We have been using computer to process and back up information for the past 11 years.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded a full-scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire incident.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement that investigation is imperative, given the public apprehension regarding the time and the offices involved in the fire.

He 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.

“Already, the National Assembly, riding on the gale of demands by Nigerians and championed by the PDP, has raised queries on spending in respect of social incentives programme.

“Nigerians are anxious to know those behind this wicked arson because the fire outbreak reportedly occurred on the part of the building which hosts critical offices, including the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Funds, Federation Account Allocation Committee and Revenue Department among others, relevant for the demanded financial inquests,” the PDP said.

On his part, a former aide to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, suspects foul play in the fire incident.

The author and activist who refers to himself as ‘Buhari tormentor’ while reacting to the fire incident described it as ‘fishy’ and coming at a time the country is on lockdown over the spread of COVVID-19.

Omokri, who reacted to the incident on his official Twitter page, said he wondered why the office would be engulfed in fire at a time when it became a ghost town due to the lockdown order and not at a time when there was a beehive of activities at the premises.

He wrote: “There is a CoronaVirus lockdown in Abuja and the Accountant General’s office burnt down?

“This is an office that didn’t burn when it was a beehive of activities, only to burn when it became a ghost town? What are the odds? An accident? Very fishy!”

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