No, Nigeria didn’t lose N700 billion Covid-19 relief funds in fire

“We Lost N700 billion Naira COVID-19 Relief Funds Due To Fire Outbreak,” reads a headline on the website News Mirror, supposedly quoting Nigeria’s finance minister. 

The 9 April 2020 article has been widely shared on Facebook.

It claims minister of finance Zainab Ahmed made the announcement at a press conference that day. 

She reportedly said: “We’re sorry about the incident occurred on Wednesday been 8th of April 2020, the government lost 700billion naira Covid-19 Relief Funds Due to the Fire outbreak, its caused a lot of damages in the office and we’re yet to investigate on what was the cause of the fire outbreak.”

Ahmed has been Nigeria’s minister of finance since September 2018. A fake quote was recently attributed to her in another Facebook post.

Has she announced that a small fortune in relief funds was lost in a fire?

Fire at Treasury House, Abuja

On 8 April, a fire gutted the accountant general’s office in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. 

But the federal government has said no official records were destroyed. The budget and national planning minister, Prince Clem Agba, said preliminary reports showed that all records were intact and the department’s operations were mainly digital. 

“Even if the data centre were to be affected, we have a backup centre that is outside Abuja, in the event we experience loss of any data,” he said.

He made no mention of Covid-19 relief funds being destroyed in the fire. 

False claim

On 9 April, the ministry of finance, budget and national planning released a statement debunking the claim that Covid-19 relief funds were lost in a fire.

The ministry tweeted: “The general public should take note. @zshamsuna [Zainab Ahmed] did not grant a press conference or any interviews. No funds were lost in the fire at the Accountant Generals Office which was contained to two rooms. Donations are under N30b to date. This is pure mischief & should be disregarded.” Motunrayo Joel


 

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