Hundreds of shops and goods estimated to be worth millions of Naira were destroyed when fire gutted a section of the popular Oba Market, Benin, Edo State capital in the wee hours of Monday, barely few days after the state government ordered traders to return to the market from various primary schools that had served as makeshift markets in the last six weeks as part measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
It had yet to be ascertained what caused the fire which affected mostly lock-up shops stocked with textile materials and cosmetics, but the fire was eventually put off by fire fighters from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, Edo Fire Service and the Nigerian Army School of Supply and Transportation, Benin.
Recounting their losses, some of the traders who deal on textile material, said they were unable to save any of their wares as the shops were completely burnt. “They called me around 1 a.m. today that Oba market was on fire. Reaching here, we could not find any of our goods”, says Mary Osadolor, a victim.
Another victim, Mrs. Janet Akpan, a dealer on cosmetics, said she had lost all her goods worth millions of Naira. “Sadly, I have lost the only thing that I use to feed my family. The fire consumed all my wares. I do not have anything in my store; everything was burnt,” she lamented.
Assistant Controller General, Federal Fire Service, Benin, Karebo Samson, said he received a distress call from the Chief Security Officer, Government House, Benin, and quickly mobilised his men to the scene. “I had to call the men at the station and they got here very early. They needed assistance because they exhausted the water they had.
“Immediately, I called the CSO that we needed assistance from sister fire fighting agencies and told me he would call the UNIBEN fire service. The army fire service, the NNPC fire service and the Edo state fire service have also been on ground. We have been here since past 12 a.m. battling the fire.I cannot tell you the cause of the fire; we will send in our investigators possibly today or tomorrow so they can ascertain what actually caused the fire,” he said.