Benin Markets’ Fire: Arsonists, Thugs Return Stolen Goods over ‘Juju’ Scare

Godwin Obaseki

Henry Onyeka

Barely a day after Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, visited Osa Market (Ekiosa) to ascertain the damage of the December 22 inferno allegedly caused by suspected arsonists, those who carted away the traders’ wares have started returning their loot over ‘juju’ scare.

The action, it was learnt, was sequel to the curse placed by Ayelala priests on those who took advantage of the fire incident to loot stalls in the popular market.

Yesterday, traders were taken aback when suspected arsonists and thugs, who had carted away their wares, started returning them to the market, in an attempt to save them from the curse placed by the traditionalists.

One of the traders, identified as Asemota, said the action was surprising, noting that they were happy that the traders could salvage some of their wares from the returned loot.

Obaseki, upon assessing the extent of the damage on Monday, had released N100 million to the affected traders, promising to rebuild the market by next year.

He said the fire incidents in the state were the handiwork of disgruntled politicians, who had vowed to make government unbearable for him.

According to him, “They said they wanted to shame us; they tried other tricks, but did not succeed. They said they would cause havoc during this yuletide, but their plans would fail.

“You cannot tell me that the fire on the 6th floor of the EDPA building was an accident. It is a clear case of arson. We had passed the market to Edo Central Senatorial District. We got to hear about the fire at about 10.00 a. m. The Fire Department was sent in from University of Benin, but the people attacked them.

“Last week, when a similar incident occurred, firefighters came in to quell the fire in Oliha market and the people chased them away. There is a pattern to what they are doing.”

The leader of the Market Women Association, Madam Blackky Ogiamien, in her remarks, said the ancestors would avenge the loss suffered by traders, whose markets were being burnt across Benin metropolis.