Panic erupted today at the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, as fire gutted the chambers of the Chief Judge, Justice Funmilayo Atilade.
The Chief Judge’s courtroom, which is on the top floor of the old building, was consumed by fire at about 8:15 am following a reported sparking from one of the air-conditioning units in the chambers. Books and furniture were destroyed.
One of the source said the incident happened after a cleaner switched on the faulty air-conditioner and left the courtroom, following which a security official, popularly called “Alhaja”, raised the alarm. The security woman was subsequently rushed to the hospital, to be treated for smoke inhalation, before the arrival of the firefighters.
Sources say the devastated courtroom is hardly used by the Chief Judge, but is reserved for her anytime she comes to the Lagos Division of the court. The entire building was saved from being razed down following the quick intervention of the Lagos State Fire Service, which prevented the blaze from spreading to other courtrooms. As a result of the heavy smoke emitting from the courtroom, however, it took the firefighters about one hour to put out the fire.
Although the fire was quickly put out by the firefighters, the inferno disrupted activities in the area as litigants were evacuated from the premises and the gates locked.
One of the court registrars who spoke on condition of anonymity told SaharaReporters of the incident, “The fire started from one of the air-conditioning unit in the CJ’s chamber. But, before anyone could get to know about it, it had gone out of control. I quickly informed my colleagues in the office and we ran down the stairs to our vehicles which we drove out of the premises,” he said.