There was pandemonium today at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as fire gutted the court’s chamber. Workers were scampering for safety as vehicular movements in the court’s premises were restricted.
The fire, which started around 7am, is alleged to have been caused by an electrical malfunction. It was put out by firefighters using fire extinguishers, but not before it had caused significant damage to the chamber.
It is not yet clear whether any sensitive documents or files were destroyed in the fire, but sources say that several offices were affected, including that of one of the judges, (Justice Mohammed Saulawa)
However, there have insinuations that the cause of the fire incident may not be unconnected with the current electoral petitions been filed at the court. Recall that the candidates of the PDP Mr. Atiku Abubarkar and that of the Labor Party, Mr. Peter Obi had filed an appeal to the Supreme Court as they were dissatisfied with the controversial judgment of the PEPT, on the 2023 presidential election.
The Supreme Court is Nigeria’s highest court, and its decisions are final. The court handles a wide range of cases, including constitutional disputes, election petitions, and appeals from lower courts. Just a couple of days ago, Presidential hopefuls, Peter Gregory Obi and Atiku Abubakar had headed to the apex court after rejecting a verdict from the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in favor of President Bola Tinubu.
The fire at the Supreme Court is a major setback for the Nigerian judiciary. It is still too early to say what impact the fire will have on the court’s operations, but it is clear that it will disrupt its work for some time. However, It is important to note that the fire occurred in a chamber, which is a room where judges hear cases and make decisions. This suggests that the fire could have destroyed important case files and other sensitive documents.
The fire also raises concerns about the safety of other government buildings in Nigeria. If a fire can break out in the Supreme Court complex, it is possible that other government buildings are also at risk.