A massive fire of unknown origin ripped through Nigeria’s treasury office on Wednesday, officials said, destroying two key departments, including the one that processes consolidated revenue sharing amongst the three tiers of government.
The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, also known as Treasury House just southeast of Abuja city centre, suffered the blaze just before 11:a.m., PREMIUM TIMES learnt. Videos shared on social media showed thick smoke billowing from the building, which was largely empty amidst a nationwide shutdown of activities over the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Fire services and other first responders, including the police and emergency management officers, raced to the scene shortly after the outbreak and successfully contained the inferno within an hour, officials said.
At least two key offices were razed by the inferno before it was put out. The fourth and fifth floors were affected, according to two senior officials briefed on the development.
“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 officials was scheduled to take place.
“We had to suspend a meeting we had scheduled for 11:a.m. via video conferencing,” the official said.
Officials have not been able to examine the extent of damage to the notable structure, but PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the destruction would be minimal.
“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.”
The two senior officials at directorate levels who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorised to speak to the media as the situation was still largely hazy. PREMIUM TIMES agreed not to identify them in accordance with its policy on anonymous sources.
Ahmed Idris, the account-general, was scheduled to be at the office Wednesday morning, but he had not arrived before the fire broke out, according to one of the officials.
Mr Ahmed did not immediately answer calls seeking comments on the development