The Shehu of Borno, Umar Abubakar Garbai, who also doubles as the Chancellor of the University of Lagos, yesterday escaped death when fire gutted some rooms at the guesthouse of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Yaba. However, his elder brother, identified as Mallam Abba Kyari, was not so lucky as he suffered from suffocation in the fire outbreak. Mr. Kyari was a former auditor general of Borno State.
The entire delegation from Borno State, only the deceased was affected because he was asthmatic, but others escaped unhurt. A source further revealed the fire was caused by a cigarette that was not properly put out by one of the person’s in the Shehu of Borno’s delegation. The identity of the culprit, however, was not revealed.
The Shehu of Borno and his delegation were at UNILAG to partake in the convocation ceremony that kick-started on Monday and ended yesterday. The Borno delegation which lodged in the guesthouse run by the university, had retired for the night when the fire started at about 12 midnight and gutted three other guest rooms (rooms A13, A14 and A15). The incident, which started from the deceased’s room (A12), caught the delegation unawares since they were already in bed after the convocation ceremony.
Before the arrival of the state fire service, three other guest rooms had been gutted by fire before the flames were finally put out by the UNILAG fire service. One of the lecturers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the fire could have been worse if not for the quick intervention of the UNILAG fire service, which succeeded in putting out the flames in 30 minutes.
Confirming the incident, the South-west Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu, said although four guest rooms were involved, only one of the occupants died.
Speaking through the zonal spokesperson, Ibrahim Farinloye, the coordinator said the deceased died of suffocation. He said: “There was a fire outbreak involving members of the delegation of Shehu of Borno at UNILAG. The incident happened at the guesthouse in UNILAG and one person died of suffocation.
“The deceased was a brother of the Shehu of Borno, Umar Abubakar Garbai. The guest room A12 was involved. The deceased will be flown to Maiduguri for burial tomorrow (Friday). There were four guest rooms affected altogether – A12, A13, A14 and A15.”
Despite the unfortunate incident, the Shehu was still able to attend the convocation ceremony where he received an honorary doctorate award from the university. The lecturer said the Shehu acted in accordance with the Islamic faith by not mourning outwardly.