The popular Oba Market in Benin City, the Edo State capital, has been razed.
The fire, which burnt almost all the massive market, according to witnesses, started around 12:05 a.m. today and raged till 6 a.m., before it was put out by a team of fire fighters.
It was learnt that there was no public electricity supply when the fire started, thereby ruling out the possibility of electrical spark, while the actual cause of the fire had not been ascertained.
Many of the traders were crying uncontrollably over the loss of their valuable goods, estimated to be hundreds of millions of naira, while the demoralised traders were pleading with Governor Godwin Obaseki and others to come to their aid, for their lives not to be miserable, having lost their sources of livelihood, at this crucial period of COVID-19 pandemic.
The ever busy dualized road in front of the burnt market, near Ring Road, was cordoned off by policemen, with the traffic diverted to adjoining roads and streets.
Men of Edo state fire service, whose office is near the burnt market, were helpless, as they gave flimsy excuses for not being able to put out the fire, ranging from lack of water and moribund trucks, making some passersby to thoroughly abuse and attack them.
The Assistant Controller, Federal Fire Servce in Asaba, Delta state, Samson Karibo, who was in Benin with his men, on special assignment, greatly assisted to put out the fire.
Karibo disclosed that the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Obaseki called to inform him, shortly after the fire started, thereby making him to quickly move to the scene with his men.
The assistant controller, federal fire servce revealed that he subsequently contacted other nearby firefighters from the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Limited, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); airforce; and Edo state fire service, who later moved to the scene, but the main work was done by the federal fire service.
Karibo assured that the inferno would be thorough investigated to know the cause, in order to prevent similar incident in the future.
In spite of the early morning downpour, the fire was still smouldering as at press time, but the fully-armed policemen and other security agents did not allow hoodlums to loot the unburnt goods.
Follow us on Twitter at @thesignalng
Copyright 2020 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.