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Fire ravages multi-million naira market in Edo

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Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki on an assessment visit to the market yesterday.

Tears flowed freely as traders stood aghast gazing over rubbles of the famous Oba Market in Benin City, Edo State, which was gutted by fire yesterday morning.

Goods worth millions of naira were destroyed by the early morning fire in the marketplace, located at the King square area of Benin City.

The multi-million-naira market, located at Oredo Local Government Area, was completed by the Social Democratic Party-led government of former Governor John Odigie-Oyegun in the early 1990s.

The wreckage of the destruction littered the marketplace. The fire came a few days after the traders were directed to return from the makeshift marketplaces operated inside public primary schools in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent fumigation of the marketplaces.

The Oba Market incident was the fourth in a row of marketplace fire disasters in Benin recently, after the Spare Parts Market at Uwelu, Santana Market and Ekiosa Market.

The fire, which began at about 12 a.m., raged till about 6:00 a.m. when the Fire Service from Asaba, Delta State, in conjunction with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Nigeria Air Force Fire Services brought the situation under control.

Recounting their losses, one of the traders who sold clothes before the incident, Edith Amayo, said she couldn’t salvage any of her wares as her shop was completely burnt. She appealed to the government and well-meaning Nigerians to assist.

Another trader, who dealt in cosmetics and simply identified herself as Habib, said she lost her wares. According to her, immediately they opened the marketplace last week, she decided to stock her shop, saying, “Sadly, I have lost the only thing to feed my family. The fire consumed all my wares. I do not have anything in my store.”

However, the Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has set up an investigation committee to unravel the cause of the fire. The governor said efforts were ongoing to ascertain the victims who lost their goods to the inferno for adequate compensation.

“The committee will also ensure that suspected arsonists who perpetrated the dastardly act are arrested and prosecuted,” he said, adding that the committee is expected to submit its report within 10 days and advise on measures to equitably rehabilitate the victims.

Speaking to newsmen, Karebo Samson, Assistant Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, said he received a distress call from the Chief Security Officer attached to the Government House in Benin.

“I had to call the men at the station and they got here very early. When they needed assistance because they exhausted the water they had, I immediately called the CSO that we needed assistance from sister fire-fighting agencies and he told me he would call the UNIBEN Fire Service. The Air Force Fire Service, NNPC have also been on the ground to battle the fire.

“I cannot tell you that this is exactly the cause of the fire, but we will send in our investigators, possibly today or tomorrow, so they can ascertain what actually caused the fire,” he said.


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