Over 120 fire extinguishers among those installed at the National Assembly complex in Abuja have not been serviced for five years, findings by The PUNCH showed on Thursday.
Investigations also indicated that they were last tested by technicians in 2011.
The majority of the Co2 fire-fighting equipment have no service certificates or maintenance records, a development that exposes the total lack of regular servicing of the installations.
The danger, according to experts, is that in the event of a fire outbreak, the installed equipment will be useless since they will most likely fail.
A senior service official in another government agency, Dr. Timothy Indinkpa, said, “Regular servicing of all extinguisher types is very important. It is a fire-fighting equipment and fire does not wait for you while you are struggling to operate the extinguisher.
“They are equipment meant to be ready to operate or brought alive as soon as there is a fire incident. This can only happen if they are in a regular state of maintenance.”
The PUNCH gathered that to remain in an active state, fire extinguishers should be serviced every six months or at least once every 12 months.
“Non-testing and regular inspection portend grave danger because it means in the event of a fire incident, the equipment may fail to work.
“Lives and property will be put to risk,” another expert informed The PUNCH.
It was learnt that the majority of fire extinguishers were last serviced or certified to be in good condition in October, 2011.
The agency, which serviced the installations, had recommended that the next due date for servicing would be March 3, 2012.
This meant a six-month service interval, but the Management of the National Assembly ignored the service requirement for five years.
The service report on most of the extinguishers read “service date, 4/10/2011; expiry date, 3/3/2012.”
Investigations showed that between March, 2012, and December, 2016, no further status checks or service certificates had been issued on the fire extinguishers.
The worst-affected area in the National Assembly Complex is the White House, which receives thousands of visitors daily and also accommodates the chambers, where 360 Reps and 109 senators hold their plenary.
The exceptions are some extinguishers at the New Wing of the Senate and the New Wing of the House, which were last serviced on March 3, 2014.
The service report indicated that they should be re-tested in March 2015, but after 2015, there is yet to be a new service record.
The PUNCH further learnt that in a bid to conceal information on the service status of many of the fire extinguishers, officials reportedly “deliberately peeled or scratched” the service records, which by regulation, should be boldly pasted on the installations.
“The fear is that these containers, which are without service records at all, may cause a scandal indeed. It could mean that they were last serviced in years earlier than 2011.
“Since the discovery will cause a lot of uproar, those in charge felt it was better to peel off the service reports,” one legislative source told The PUNCH.
However, when The PUNCH checked the budget of the National Assembly, it was observed that up to N1bn, budgeted for general services yearly since 2011, was drawn 100 per cent by officials.
As of 2003, the budget of the National Assembly and its institutions, including the management, was N23.347bn.
It sharply rose to N150bn in 2010, a figure that was retained from 2011 to 2013.
It only dropped to N120bn in 2014 and N115bn in 2015/2016.
When contacted, the current management, led by the Clerk, Mr. Mohammed Sani-Omolori, defended his leadership and placed the blame on “inherited challenges.”
Sani-Omolori, who assumed office in August as the substantive Clerk, claimed he was working round the clock to carry out accumulated repairs.
His Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Yahaya Dan-Zaria, told The PUNCH that Sani-Omolori was aware of the maintenance decay at the legislative building and was making efforts within available resources to carry out repairs.
“One of the first things he did when he was appointed was to raise a committee to do an inventory on areas of need. The committee has been working and some of these repairs are being done in phases.
“It is only fair that for someone, who took over as the Clerk in August, he will need some time to take on these issues one at a time,” Dan-Zaria added.