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Security agents battle looters as fire destroys Abuja supermarket

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Matthew Ogune and Tina Abeku, Abuja
27 December 2021   |   3:10 am
It was a looting spree, yesterday, as an early morning fire engulfed NEXT supermarket, one of the largest retail outlets in Jabi area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT ), Abuja.

Debris at Next Cash & Carry in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

It was a looting spree, yesterday, as an early morning fire engulfed NEXT supermarket, one of the largest retail outlets in Jabi area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT ), Abuja.
 
The incident occurred a few months after a popular supermarket, Ebeano, also caught fire. Eyewitnesses said shortly after the super market went up in flames, people were seen running into other parts of the building not affected by the fire, stealing several items before the intervention of the security personnel who arrested some of the looters, while others escaped.
   
The incident also took shine off Boxing Day celebration, as residents shunned the area for safety reasons. The Guardian learnt that many properties were destroyed in the inferno, while security agents were on ground to prevent hoodlums from capitalising on the situation to loot the outlet.

   
When The Guardian visited the scene, people were seen carting away items undeterred by the fire before security agencies consisting of the Nigerian Army, the Police, Civil Defence and the Road safety intervened to halt the looting.
   
When contacted, spokesperson for the Federal Fire Service, Ugo Huan,  confirmed the incident, but could not immediately say the cause of the inferno.
 
She however said firefighters from over three different zones, including the FCT fire service, were at the scene battling to put out the fire and prevent it from spread.
   
She advised residents to avoid the areas as firefighters battle to put out the fire and prevent its spread.
Huan said the warning became necessary because many residents are expected to visit the store as it was a festive period.
  
She explained that the cause of the fire will be made known later, stressing that putting out the fire was of immediate concern for the service.

MEANWHILE, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has ordered a full investigation into the circumstances, which led to the fire outbreak at the supermarket.

  
FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, said the investigation became imperative to ascertain the cause of the inferno to prevent a reoccurrence in any other business establishment within the FCT.
  
A statement by Bello’s Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, made it clear that the FCTA is determined to put an end to incidents of fire outbreaks in the territory.
 
Bello expressed shock and deep sadness over the incident and called for caution. He commiserated with the management and staff members of the supermarket and the FCT business community over the unfortunate incident.
  
The Minister commended the FCT Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service, the Fire Service Departments of the Nigerian Navy, Air Force, Guards Brigade and Julius Berger Nig. PLC that responded with their fire-fighting equipment.
 
He also commended FCT FEMA, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Security agencies and other responders for their efforts in containing the fire.