Ex-Commissioner’s Son, Girlfriend Die in Bayelsa Fire


One of the children of a former Bayelsa State Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Chief Nimibofa Ayawei, and his girlfriend, identified only as Happiness, at the weekend died in a fire incident in Yenagoa, the state capital.

Mientei Ayawei, one of the victims, was burnt to death in a house belonging to his father, who is also the current Chairman of the Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue.  It was gathered that the incident occurred on Saturday at the NIIT area of Tombia in Yenagoa, immediately the Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), restored power supply, raising suspicion that the incident could be traced to a power surge.  A neighbour to the deceased , who identified  himself as James Akan, disclosed that he heard a loud noise when the power company restored electricity, noting that efforts to extinguish the inferno to save the victims were fruitless. 

“As they brought the light, there was a loud noise like an explosion and other occupants of the rooms in the house started running for safety.  “They even broke the protector in an effort to save them, but it was too late”, Akan said, adding that the two corpses have been deposited in a mortuary in Yenagoa.  Another source who preferred not to be named, stated that the fire started by 4a.m. on that day, disclosing that nearly all the rooms and property in the one-storey building, adjacent to a filling station owned by the former commissioner, were razed by the inferno.  He claimed that the fire started from the apartment where Mientei and his girlfriend were, stressing that they were already dead by the time help came.  The source, who claimed to be a sibling of the victim (Mientei), said when the fire started, the duo of Mientei and Happiness were probably sleeping and got knowledge of the fire when the whole room they were in had already been enveloped by smoke and furnace.  He said at the time, there were two other persons who were in another room in the house, but they managed to escape death by a whisker.  He said Mientei, 25, had just finished his degree programme in Human Resources Management, from a university in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.   It was learnt that while Mientei was from Southern Ijaw area of the state, his girlfriend,  Happiness, hailed from Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. 

The source added that the fire destroyed all the properties in the house as the entire rooms were razed down.  When contacted,  spokesman for the State Police Command, Asinim Butswat, confirmed the incident, saying the police responded to the distress call quickly.  Butswat said the command received a distress call that a house was burning and immediately dispatched a response team.