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Fire Outbreak: Minister Escapes Death

But For Divine Providence, A Minister And Several Staff At The Federal Secretariat Abuja Would Have Been Killed In A Fire Outbreak

Kingsley Madaki and Charity Simon, Abuja

Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, now has divine providence to thank as he worships today, for his narrow escape from a fire outbreak that destroyed his office and other offices at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja before it was contained. Pandemonium ensued as staff of the ministry, where the fire incident was said to have started from, scampered to save their lives while the minister was still in a meeting with principals of Unity Colleges, at his office. The Union investigation revealed that the minister was however bundled out of the burning building by his aides, using an alternative exit.

The Union gathered that the inferno affected only the unit of the Ministry of Education and part of Police Affairs ministry, before it was put out. Speaking with The Union on the incident, Mr Labaran Maman, who is in charge of Research and Fire Control from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the agency acted in response to distress call from the secretariat. He also said the combined effort of fire fighters from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Julius Berger fire services, helped to contain the situation. He explained that the incident started about 1.30 pm yesterday from the seventh floor of the complex. “Usually when there is fire outbreak we shut down the lift and try to dwell more on crowd control. We cannot ascertain the cause of the fire outbreak because investigation is ongoing,” he said.

Operational commander of the Federal Fire Service, who gave his name only as Ime, also commented on the incident saying that the service was in need of more equipment. “We need more appliances and equipment so that we can handle such incident on our own”, he said. According to an eyes witness, the inferno began on the sixth floor of the complex and was believed to have affected the seventh and eighth floors. Cause of the fire is still unknown. The Union further gathered that fire fighters arrived the scene on time. No one was however hurt in the outbreak. Some workers at the complex told The UNION that emergency fire equipment at the complex were not functional. According to some of the workers, this hampered initial efforts to extinguish the fire. “All the fire extinguishers in the building have expired,” one official said. As at press time, normalcy had returned to the complex as the fire was effectively extinguished while civil servants went about their activities.

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