Okon Bassey in Uyo
It was a black day for the people of Iwoukpom community in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State as fire outbreak destroyed about 2, 000 houses and rendered over 4, 500 people homeless in the state yesterday.
Also, THISDAY gathered that property worth millions of naira were destroyed in the fire incident which reportedly started at about 12:30 a.m. One of the victims, Mrs. Victoria Udoh, described the situation as unfortunate, saying she was infomed of the inferno by a friend while attending a church programme that her house was completely burnt.
Udoh, a mother of three children while crying uncontrollably said she could not pick a pin before the fire that has rendered her homeless.
“The entire building was raised completely and I could not pick a pin in the house,” she lamented.
She called on the state government, spirited individuals, multinational companies and NGOs to come to their rescue, lamenting that she did not have room on her head anymore.
Udoh equally called on National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (Sema) to provide relief materials to the affected victims to ameliorate their suffering.
Also speaking, Hon. Sunday Isokobo, Vice Chairman, Ibeno Local Government Area described the inferno as a “serious disaster”, saying that the inferno was so serious that nobody could access the place when the fire was burning in the area.
He said “About 1 a.m. this morning, I received a call from my brothers and sisters living in this fishing settlement at Iwoukpom, that there is a very serious fire disaster taking place here.”
He explained that the inferno completely razed down a lot of buildings and wooden structures and uncountable fishing equipment worth millions of naira destroyed.
Isokobo, however, said that nobody knew the cause of the inferno as at the time of filing this report but stressed that no life was lost during the fire incident.
He promised to give relief materials to the affected families to reduce their suffering and called on the state government, oil companies, donor agencies and international community to come to the aid of those affected in the fire incident.
“We will give them relief materials to start with and think of permanent ways of giving them back hope, especially the fisher men who had lost their livelihood to the inferno.
“It is a pity that the inferno also affected my father’s house, I am begging government, donor agencies, international communities, oil companies to come to their aid,” Isokobo appealed.
The youth leader of Ibeno LGA, Mr. Kingsley Asuquo expressed sadness over the inferno that happened in Ibeno in the early hours of the morning.
He said the fire incident destroyed completely everything in the environment including fishing equipment in the area.
“It is pathetic and the people have lost everything in their life, so there is no word that is qualified to explain the circumstances,” he stated.
He said over thousands of people had been rendered homeless and called on state government to provide internal displaced camp for the affected victims.
The leader of the Yoruba community, Mr. Foli Ogungbemi, Special Adviser to the Chairman of Ibeno on none indigenes noted that the entire place was largely settled by Yoruba speaking community.
He explained that when the incident happened the people were running for their safety and none could really know the root cause of the inferno.
Ogungbemi explained that Iwuokpum was highly populated with Yoruba indigenes and is the place that run the highest economic in Ibeno.