CLAIM: On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, a section of the Treasury House, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), was gutted by fire. The fire outbreak started on the third floor of the building but was later put off by officers of the Federal Fire Service about two hours later with the assistance of some sister agencies.
Few hours after the fire started, social media users began raising suspicion on the origin of the fire with some insinuating that the fire might have been staged to cover-up corruption by some officials in the management of the COVID-19 intervention funds.
A screenshot of a news headline began making rounds on social media with the claim that the Minister of Finance, in a press conference on April 9, had said the Federal Government lost the sum of N700 billion COVID-19 Relief Funds to the incident. The headline read: ‘’ We Lost N700 billion Naira COVID-19 Relief Funds Due To Fire Outbreak – Finance Minister ‘’.
Part of the news story read, ‘’ The Nigerian finance minister Mrs Zainab Ahmed has announced to the nation that the government lost 700billion naira COVID-19 Relief Funds.
The information was announced during her press interview today on Thursday 9th April 2020, where she announced that the files and documents of the COVID-19 Relief fund donated by individuals and companies to support the nation fight coronavirus were all burnt down.’’
FACT: The story is not only false but also not grounded in
The story also claimed the Minister of Finance granted a press interview where she made the announcement but a simple search on google shows no credible news platform has reported the said announcement even after 24 hours except some unreliable news blogs including the opera news hub where this story was published.
Also, the government has denied the story. The denial was contained in a Twitter post from the official handle of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, (@FinMinNigeria) which was shared in the early hours of Friday, April 10, 2020. It reads,
“The general public should take note. Zainab Ahmed did not grant a press conference or any interviews. No funds were lost in the fire at the Accountant General’s Office which was contained in two rooms. Donations are under N30 billion to date. this is pure mischief and should be disregarded.’’
CONCLUSION: The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, did not say Nigeria lost N700 billion Naira COVID-19 Relief Funds in the fire outbreak at the Treasury House.
The fire outbreak affected the capital unit of the Office of the AGF’s office where all the capital releases to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government are made. The CDD and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) urge the general public to always verify every information before sharing across any social media platform.