Tears as Asaba popular market goes up in flames
• Three bodies of suspected kidnap victims found in Delta community
Millions of naira went up in flames in the early hours of yesterday as the popular Ogbogologo Market was razed by fire, the cause of the fire which began at about 7:00 a.m. is still hazy, but sources at the market attribute it to an electrical fault that sparked from a section where mobile phones and accessories are sold. Others alleged that the carelessness of those in charge of the fire service escalated the incident.
One of the respondents, Mr. Uchenna Okeke, who spoke with The Guardian said: “About 30 stores in the old building with goods worth millions of naira went with the flames as the firefighters arrived late. If they had been here earlier, we could have been saved this agony of watching our hard-earned efforts razed to rubbles.”
Traders at the market, a major foodstuff spot along the ever-busy Nnebisi Road, Asaba, were seen in the numbers teary-eyed and counting their losses. Others wailed uncontrollably as sympathisers made anxious efforts to salvage what was left when our correspondent visited yesterday.
The inferno also consumed the entire livestock section and a section of the tailoring materials, with chickens, goats and other livestock roasted. As at the time of filing this report, there was no human casualty, as the daily market is usually closed every Tuesday since the outbreak of COVID-19.
One of the affected traders said: “I am finished! All my sewing machines are gone. Even materials that I collected from customers all got burnt in the shop.”
The governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has commiserated with victims of the fire incident. The governor, who visited the market to inspect the extent of damage by the inferno, assured the victims that the state government would assist the traders affected to get back to their businesses. He told newsmen that the cause of the fire was still being investigated and assured that the government would liaise with Oshimili South Local Government Area to rebuild the market to the modern standard.
His words: “I have just finished inspecting the burnt section of the Ogbeogonogo market here in Asaba; there was a fire incident in the market this morning but it is the old market that was affected and the new section was not affected. It is obvious that a lot of persons have been affected because we saw that virtually all the stores in that section have totally been brought down by the fire.
“I commiserate with those who lost their goods to the unfortunate incident and as a government, we will do everything possible to assist them. I cannot ascertain the number of stores now but there is quite a number and I have directed that the chairman of that section of the market should be able to get to us the documentation of those who own shops in that market.”
Meanwhile, days after a one-week quit notice was handed the Hausa-Fulani community by Oshimili North local government area to vacate its bushes, three bodies suspected to be victims of recent kidnap have been discovered between Illah and Ugbolu community.
The mutilated bodies of the victims could not be immediately identified by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Illah Police Division and some elders of Ugbolu community when they visited the crime scene, which residents have lamented to be a flashpoint for herders and kidnappers.
The Director-General, Young Nigerian Rights Organization, Comrade Victor Ojei, told journalists: “We can now see reasons with the chairman of the local council when he gave marching orders for everyone illegally occupying the bushes in any part of the local government area to evacuate with immediate effect or face the full wrath of the law.”