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Fire guts Central Bank office in Ibadan

Posted by From Iyabo Lawal, Ibadan on 2006/02/01 | Views: 481 |

Fire guts Central Bank office in Ibadan


AN early morning inferno yesterday gutted the Ibadan branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), destroying valuable documents and property worth millions of Naira.

AN early morning inferno yesterday gutted the Ibadan branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), destroying valuable documents and property worth millions of Naira.

But the quick intervention of state fire-fighters as well as fire-fighters in both the public and private sectors saved the situation. The fire, which started at the top floor of the seven-storey building, was put out by the men and prevented from spreading to other parts of the building.

Policemen and soldiers had a hectic time controlling hoodlums who had wanted to cash in on the situation to loot offices of the CBN and the adjoining organisations.

The fire, according to witnesses, started around 8.20 a.m., on the seventh floor of the building, which doubles as the Development and Finance office used basically for administrative purposes and the Conference Room.

The Guardian learnt that a power surge from the bank's engine room is believed to have caused a spark, which ignited the fire, catching workers unaware. As soon as the fire was noticed, pandemonium broke out among the workers who had settled down in their offices for the day's work.

They ran helter-skelter while those in the adjourning offices soon joined in the scampering for safety.

Armed soldiers quickly cordoned off the premises and all the adjoining roads to prevent hoodlums from moving in.

Men of the State Fire Service, led by Mr. Salmon Lawal promptly responded to the distress call by the bank as they arrived the scene kited for battle and fought spiritedly to put out the fire.

After exhausting the water in their tank, the men dashed out for a refill but other fire service agencies from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Polytechnic Ibadan, the Federal Airports Authority (FAAN) as well as the Sumal Group of companies owned by a Lebanese also arrived at the scene to put out the raging fire. As they battled to stop the inferno, representatives of the Red Cross and the Civil Defence also arrived to give a helping hand.

The fire was eventually put out two hours later while thick smoke still enveloped the scene making it impossible for people to go in. Assistant Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mrs. Adebisi Adeyemi, who led her team to the scene, said 40 trained fire disaster fighters were brought in alongside another group of anti-vandalism squad to check looting. She assured that normalcy would be returned to the apex bank soon.

The Guardian learnt that the water hydrant to fight fire in the apex bank was not functioning, a fate suffered by all the water pipes linking all the seven floors.

The CBN branch Controller, Mr. Jerry Okafor told reporters that the cause of the fire outbreak could not be ascertained at the moment but assured that the situation was under control.

He disclosed that all necessary measures were being taken to prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the building.

The State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Jonathan Johnson, who led his men to the scene said they would begin investigation into the cause of the incident as soon as the situation was put under control.

His word: "We want the situation to be put under control before we come in. Definitely, we will investigate but we want the CBN officials to take stock and later on, maybe by this evening or tomorrow (today), we will come in to find out some things."

Johnson, who also spoke of his encounter with the hoodlums who had gathered at the scene, ostensibly to loot, said policemen had to be drafted to strategic points within the Dugbe-Gbagi axis where the bank is located to prevent them from carrying out their nefarious activities.

The hoodlums, it was learnt, were throwing stones and shouting at the policemen while they moved closer with a view to robbing people.

The police team as well as soldiers called in to help were able to put the situation under control as they cordoned off the area and prevented both human and vehicular movement, around the scene throughout the two-hour period.

The state's controversial Deputy Governor, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi alongside other officers including the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo; the Acting Speaker, Mr. Taiwo Oluyemi; and some council chairmen as well as former governor of the state, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, also visited the scene to assess the situation.

The CBN governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, who led other top officials of the bank to Ibadan to assess the damage, said his immediate concern was to restore normal operations in the branch.

Noting that the CBN is the live wire of the nation's economy, Soludo gave assurance that his management would expedite action on the rehabilitation of the burnt section.

Besides, he disclosed that the financial institution would respond very seriously to the fire incident by re-examining the electrification process in all its branches.

Soludo said preliminary investigation revealed that the incident occurred as a result of electrical fault. On the extent of damage, he said the medical section was burnt down, while the seventh floor was totally destroyed.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding