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Fire razes Defence Building

Posted by By Regina Akpabio, Seye Olumide, Bertram Nwannekanma and Alex Olise on 2006/05/17 | Views: 418 |

Fire razes Defence Building

IN what is becoming a jinx, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) building on Moloney Street, Lagos, was razed by fire yesterday. It is the third time fire was gutting the buildings of the MOD.

* Wuyep laments poor maintenance

IN what is becoming a jinx, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) building on Moloney Street, Lagos, was razed by fire yesterday. It is the third time fire was gutting the buildings of the MOD.

The inferno, which gutted the last floor of the four-storey building used by the Air Force, according to a witness, started at about 3.00 a.m. and could have spread to the other buildings but for the quick response of the combined team of a nearby fire-fighters of Lagos State, Navy and the Air Force.

When The Guardian visited the scene, smoke was still billowing from the burnt floor despite the rain. The premises were also littered with some burnt accessories.

Though the cause of the inferno is still being investigated, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Jonah Wuyep who visited the scene at about 10.30 a.m., attributed the fire to electrical factors.

The Air Force chief, who flew in from Abuja upon the news of the inferno to assess the level of damage, said: "The fire incident is being investigated and the cause is yet unknown. But my personal guess is that it may have been electrical since the building is almost 30 years old".

He also attributed the incessant fire outbreaks on some federal buildings in Lagos to lack of periodic maintenance considering their ages.

His words: "Most of the fittings and wire in these buildings are supposed to be changed and maintained but for a while now, we have not been doing that, not in this particular building. But there are so many government quarters like that which have not been going through the normal periodic maintenance to check some of these things that can cause fire".

On the materials affected by the fire and the cost of the damages, Wuyep said the cost of damage could not be ascertained immediately since the fire-fighters were still working.

He, however, described the cost as colossal as nothing could be salvaged from the inferno.

An Air Force official, who pleaded anonymity, said the fire consumed several vital documents.

On the measures contemplated by the Air Force to avert a re-occurrence, Wuyep said the Air Force would do some thing about facilities that are 15 years old or more.

However, the Executive Secretary of Joint Disasters Rescue Initiative, Mr. Ejeata Arawore, who was at the scene of the incident when The Guardian visited, said it would cost the Federal Government N4 billion to renovate the damaged portion of the building excluding other materials destroyed.

He lamented the rate at which government structures were being gutted by fire, saying private sector participation in fire management should be encouraged in the country.

Early this year, the Stallion House at Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, went up in flames.

Nigerians would not forget in a hurry, the burning of Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) Mega Petrol Station at Abuja and another of its buildings at Kingsway Road, Lagos.

In November 2003, the Great Insurance building on Martins Street, Lagos, was razed.

Property worth several millions of naira and vital documents were destroyed in January 2005, in a fire outbreak which razed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)offices in Oluyole Local Government, Idi Ayunre, Ibadan.

In February 2004, the Oyo State High Court Complex caught fire destroying documents and property worth millions of naira.

Another court in Lagos was razed in the same month.

Four days after losing its corporate headquarters and volumes of records to fire at the former Federal Government Secretariat, in Ikoyi, Lagos, the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) suffered another loss in March 2004, when its main laboratories in Kaduna went up in flames.

Some operational parts of the NNPC depot in Ibadan were also razed by fire in April 2005.

In July 2005, a section of the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, was gutted.

Another fire razed the Nigerian Ports Authority corporate headquarters, Marina, Lagos, in April 2005, and destroyed some offices on the second floor occupied by the Corporate Planning and Statistics Department.

The Lagos Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, got burnt in the same month.

Also in March 2006, the Bank of Industry (BOI) building on Broad Street, Lagos Island, was gutted by fire.

The building located at Moloney Street Island area of the state harbours most of the strategic units of the Armed Forces.

Senior officers drawn from the Armed Forces are currently on training in one of the floors.

The building also harbours the main stream of the Defence staff across the military formations.

The Defence Headquarters Abuja, also sends selected senior officers to undergo training on professional courses in the same building.

Defence sources told The Guardian that military authorities have begun intense probe into the incident.

Sources said vital documents of the nation's military archive were destroyed.

No life was reported lost.

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