As Sanwo-Olu orders probe into inferno
Victims lament losses
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
At least one person was confirmed dead while others sustained injuries in a communal clash that broke out Sunday, in Okobaba, Ebute-Metta, Mainland Local Government Area where fire gutted last Friday.
Meanwhile, following a widespread fire that gutted several plank buildings at the Okobaba area, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has despatched an inter-ministerial team to investigate the immediate and remote cause of the inferno with the view to resettle and compensate victims.
According to the report, a violent clash broke out in the early hours of Sunday at Ebute-Metta, between a group of truck pushers who specialised in scraps business, mainly, Hausa and some Odua People’s Congress, OPC.
However, men of the Denton Police Station, Lagos State Command, who raced to the scene of the clash later restored peace and normalcy to the area.
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Commissioner for Finance, Mr Rabiu Olowo, led other government teams to the site which included, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Idris Salako and Special Adviser to the Governor on Civic Engagement, Mrs Adebowale-Owoeye, and were accompanied by the Mainland Local Government Chairman, Mrs Omolola Essien.
Narrating to the government team how the clash happened, Mr Hassan Ibrahim, Leader Hausa Youth, Okobaba, said: “We lost one of our members during a fracas with some people who claimed to be OPC. Trouble started when some of our men went to buy scraps from the burnt shanties and while on their way back they were intercepted and harassed by some miscreants and OPC demanding for money before they could go with the scrap materials which our members resisted.
“In the process fight broke out. One was shot in the head and others who sustained injuries are currently receiving treatment at the Ebute Metta Health Centre.
“We are just making preparation on how to bury the deceased today. We are not happy about this but with total submission to God, we are ready to maintain the peace on the interest of the general public.”
Also speaking on behalf of fire victims, Alhaji Abdulhakeem Mohammed, appealed for government’s assistance as the people are a really poor group.
Mohammed said: “We are happy that the Governor has sent representatives to have on the spot assessment. Initially, our fear was you were going to send us packing from here but with your assurance, we are hopeful.
“All we need is the government’s compensation. The people living here about 500 families are masses who can barely afford three square meals. We have nowhere to go.”
Olowo, who pleaded for calm and cooperation among the warring parties and the fire victims, urged them to maintain peaceful coexistence, shun conflict and violence.
While commiserating with those who lost their valuables, he said the government would liaise with stakeholders and groups to find a lasting solution to incessant fire incidence which has been an annual occurrence with the latest being the third within three months.
Olowo said: “Mr Governor has asked us to come and have the on the spot situation and report back to him. We are here to see exactly what happened, how bad it is, in a bid to understand the present situation, so that we can also learn what we can do to bring some succour to the people affected.
”It is not very good at sight, what we will hope to do is to understudy the root cause and we are going to attack it from the root cause so that this kind of thing will not happen again. We are not here to displace you.”
The Governor’s delegation to the area also visited the Ebute Metta Health Centre where those injured during the fracas were being treated.