WAEC breaks silence over burnt office

WAEC Patrick Areghan

WAEC's Head of National Office, Patrick Areghan

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has broken its silence on the fire incident that occurred in its Yaba office on Wednesday in Lagos.

The body’s Head of National Office (HNO), Mr Patrick Areghan, said only the second and third floors of the Yaba office had minimal damage during the morning fire.

Areghan who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos explained how he got a call alerting him of the incident and rushed to the scene.

He said it was just like any other day when most of the staff were preparing to set out for the day’s work.

“This morning I got a call that a part of the WAEC office Yaba building was on fire. I quickly dashed down to the office and by the time I got there, the fire service people were there.

“Both the State and Federal levels and even the emergency safety people were all there. And I must say kudos to them.

“For WAEC too, we have sophisticated state-of-the-art firefighting equipment and they were able to deploy all that was needed to put out the fire in record time.

“To the glory of God, nobody was injured, no life was affected and no substantial damage was done to the building.

“You know it is a building of 12 floors and the fire started from the second floor, and it is only the second and third floors that recorded some minimal damage,” he said.

Areghan said that with a building of that magnitude, it would be difficult to just have a clearance within a twinkle of an eye, because of the smoke that was billowing.

“That was why you saw smoke spreading to other parts of the building. The entire WAEC building was not on fire,’’ he said.

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The HNO said that the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, but that he was awaiting a technical report from the fire service team.

He reassured that certificates and other documents in its custody were not affected by the fire.

Areghan said that there was nothing to worry about as the council had what it took to protect essential documents, capable of creating panic among key stakeholders and the public in general.

According to him, the fire did not reach the floor where the documents are kept, adding that even if it happened there, nothing would have gone wrong because of the council’s ability to respond swiftly.

“Nothing has gone wrong in any way. It is not easy to destroy WAEC documents under our custody.

“I am assuring the general public and my entire staff that all is well.

“There is actually nothing to worry about. There are other ways to protect our documents. So, everything is intact”, he said.

Areghan said that if anyone was still in doubt concerning the availability and safety of their certificates, they could ask for them tomorrow and see if the council would be able to present them or not.

He said everything was now calm and under control at the premises.

“ If not that we just want to clear the smoke and the water used in putting out the fire, we would have been in our offices working now.

“We just need a little time to clear that so that people can settle down and get back to work,” a confident Areghan told NAN.

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