Minister dismisses sabotage as fire razes Accountant-General’s office

PDP alleges cover up of ‘misappropriated N2 trillion’
By Kelechi James
Minister of State for Finance, Clem Agba has dismissed allegations of foul play by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the fire that razed a section of the Treasury House on Wednesday.
Briefing newsmen, Agba explained that the fire affected some parts of the building
adding, however, that no records were lost in the fire.
He said the cooling system of the data centre was damaged by the fire, before it was eventually contained.
“We have gone round the rooms and offices where the fire has affected and I’m glad to announce to you our data centre where all our records are kept are intact.
“No destruction, so we haven’t lost any record.
“I have to inform you that for some time now we have gone digital, but still have a few things that we do manually, but a lot of things now is online. Even if the data centre were to be affected, we have a backup that is kept outside of Abuja in case we lose the data centre,” Agba said.
Agba said he was informed that the fire was started by a faulty air conditioner, adding, “The right professionals would be able to tell us whether it is the air conditioner and something more.”
He disclosed that a full-scale investigation involving forensic experts was underway to ascertain the cause of the inferno that engulfed the fourth floor of the treasury building where the capital projects of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are processed.
“An officer came to the office, he put on the air conditioner and there was a spark. He noticed smoke and he immediately put it off but it was still smouldering and he had to rush out to get some help.
The fire servicemen were called about 10:10 am and they responded within four minutes with three fire trucks. However, there was a little bit of difficulty in getting inside the building because they thought they should fight the fire both from outside and inside.
They eventually broke in to fight the fire. When they saw the extent of it, they called for help. And altogether, 25 fire trucks were mobilised to fight it and within 35 minutes, it was put under control.”
However, the PDP has questioned Agba’s explanation, alleging it was an apparent cover up of the misappropriation of public funds.
Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiya, said the fire was not unconnected with the call for a probe into subsidy payments made by the government since 2015 when Buhari became president.
Ologbondiya, writing on his Twitter page, said: “We demanded a probe of the subsidy payments since 2015 that @MBuhari came into office and the next thing is fire guts Treasury House… Fraud!”
Also writing on the incident, former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, said it was ‘suspicious.’
Fani-Kayode wrote on Twitter, “The Accountant General’s office has been burnt? Sounds very suspicious to me. Is someone trying to cover up something? Time will tell.
He said that the National Assembly asked the Federal Government to “explain how you distributed N2 trillion to the poor. We need names, how you arrived at your database & the demographic spread”.
He added that in reply, the government said all the records were intact, but “nine hours later office of the Acct-General is engulfed by fire.”
The complex Treasury House is located beside the FCT Police Command and the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) at Garki II, Abuja.
Although what caused the inferno is still unclear, with emergency services have since been deployed to the scene, there are indications that the inferno started from the third floor, razing the building upwards including the Accountant General’s office and most of the important offices. Firefighters, internal security and eyewitnesses could not provide the immediate cause of the fire cause as the building had no staff in it due to the COVID-19 lockdown being observed across the FCT and other states.

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