Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Some traders operating within the premises of Oja Oba market in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, have lost property worth about N150 million to inferno.
The market stall, which have 30 lock-up shops, was located opposite the popular Bisi Market at the Post office area of the Ado Ekiti metropolis. The fire, which according to eyewitnesses, suddenly surged at about
7.30 p.m. last Tuesday, gutted the entire building belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayoseâ€™s Chief of Staff, Chief Dipo Anisulowo, and destroyed the property therein.
The building was formerly used by a new generation bank before it was converted to market stalls for traders.
The traders, numbering about 30, who operate under the aegis of Ekiti State Youth Tradersâ€™ Association, linked the incident to alleged arson attack by unknown persons Rumour had it that the house must have been attacked by politicians because the building belonged to a top Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member in the state.
Recounting how the incident happened, the Chairman of the Association,
Opeyemi Fakayode, said it started at about 7.30 p.m. when the securityguard had already arrived.
He said some of the property could have been salvaged by men of the Fire Service, but for lack of water in the firefighting tanker, adding that the other vehicle that could have helped the situation suddenly developed fault upon arriving at the scene.
He said: â€œNone of us was able to salvage a pin from that place. Even the guard had arrived and was about changing his dresses behind the building when he saw huge smoke coming through the windows.
â€œWe suspected arson because one of the windowsâ€™ blades had been bent, meaning that someone must have done that for sinister motive. We suspected that that was where they used to set the building on fire.
â€œIt could not have been electrical problem because our light had been disconnected before the incident. Even the fuse of the generating set we were using collectively was intact and was put on neutral, which we believed could not have sparked the fire.
â€œSome of us just went to market to buy new products to sell when the incident happened and we may end up having nothing if we have no help.â€
Fakayode added that they immediately called the state Fire Service upon receiving distress calls from the security guards to salvage the situation, but all to no avail.
â€œWhen the fire fighters came with two tankers, one of them had no water while the other one with water could not pump, it became faulty at that spot.
â€œIt was after this we called Afe Babalola University, which deployed its tanker but the property had already been razed down completely before it arrived,â€ he added.
In a letter dated June 20 signed by the victims and addressed to the
General Manager, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), they appealed to the state government for relief materials.
They said help from the government and well-meaning Nigerians remained the only way some of them could return to market and begin trading.