By Fredrick Okopie
Days after the Nasco Building located at No. 29 Burma Street, Apapa, in Apapa Local Government Area, Lagos was gutted by fire, speculations remain rife as to the actual cause of the inferno which destroyed properties and documents worth billions of naira.
The twin building of six storeys housed various business and professional outfits such as clearing and forwarding firms, travelling agencies, freight companies, cyber cafes, law firms, micro finance banks, investment companies and a popular eatery .
Conspicuous in what can be regarded as the carcass of the massive building after the fire incident is the Chartered Institute of Shipping which is located on the fourth floor, where a bewildered student lamented the fact that he and his colleagues could not write their examinations due to the unfortunate incident.
Presently different versions of what led to the fire continue to make the rounds, with a certain eyewitness telling Vanguard Metro, VM, he strongly suspected sabotage.
According to Mr. Tunde Oguniyi, a Chief Chef with Oasis Restaurant, who claimed to have witnessed everything that happened from the beginning to the end: “The fire started from the third floor at about 8:30pm on Monday, October 31, 2011, when PHCN brought power. I believe it was power surge that caused the fire. I and some other staff rushed to the third floor to rescue some properties and documents. As we were doing that I called the Lagos State Fire Service and the NPA fire service, they came buy could not salvage the situation.
“The fire spread rather rapidly from floor to floor. So we were not surprised when the first building next to our eatery collapsed; that was around 1:20am.
“As we were watching in disbelief, the other building came down with a big bang at 3:30am. It fell on a second generation bank next to it. The bank people could not salvage a single property or document”.
But a young man who simply identifies himself as Gbenga, told VM that the building collapsed so easily due to inadequate pillars.
A man who said he is an ex-military officer said based on his military experience, it was not possible for “an ordinary fire” to cause such large scale damage on the building. He said he suspected that explosives were planted in both buildings. To buttress his suspicion, he had asked rhetorically, how come the middle building did not fall the way others did?
Our reporter was told of a man who slumped in a fainting fit on discovering that the N12 million he kept in the office was among the items that were reduced to a smouldering rubble.