…Victim slumps dead as police stop hoodlums from looting spree
By Nwabueze Okonkwo
Owners of about 400 lock-up shops at the Jide zone (section) of the Old Motor Spare Parts market (Mgbuka market), Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State are now counting their losses, following last Friday’s midnight fire incident that razed the entire zone.
At the last count, one of the fire victims, Mr. Godwin Edozieuno whose five shops were razed by the inferno, slumped dead few hours after the incident had been brought under control.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Anambra State command, Mr Edwin Okadigbo, an Assistant Superintendent who confirmed the incident in a telephone chat, said more casualties would have been recorded if the incident had occured in the day time.
Okadigbo who identified the deceased simply as G.O.D and chairman of Zone 11, disclosed that G.O.D did not die in the inferno but after the inferno when he noticed that his five shops were completely razed down, adding that he was confirmed dead by medical experts at a nearby private hospital where he was rushed to after he slumped.
The NSCDC spokesman noted that the fire destroyed so many shops and goods because of the highly inflammable nature of the goods sold in the market, adding that the fire was put out by men of the Anambra State Fire Service, assisted by operatives of other sister security agencies.
He stated that the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained but suspected it could either come from electrical fault or wildfire from the neighborhood.
Investigations revealed that the inferno might have been caused by gas explosion or epileptic power supply according to an impeccable market source.
According to a trader who pleaded anonymity, “Enugu Electric Distribution Company, EEDC took off the light at about 10 pm on that fateful Friday night and restored it about 12 midnight and by 1.30 am, thick smokes started gushing out from a particular shop at the G-line of the Jide zone and in that particular shop there were cooking gas cylinders.
“What I am saying is that it is either there was a leakage from the cylinders or epileptic power supply that may have caused the inferno.
“Traders and hoodlums rushed to the market at that time of the night but thanked God that the timely intervention of the fire fighters, security operatives and other relevant agencies helped to quench the inferno and also prevented looters from embarking on a looting spree.
“Without their presence, the fire which ravaged the entire Jide zone before it was brought under control, would have escalated to other zones that have more than 2,500 shops, excluding make-shift structures.
“A trader who is the chairman of zone 11, Mr Godwin Edoziuno, we call him ‘GOD’, slumped and died when he rushed to the scene and saw that up to five of his shops were touched beyond recognition”
Also reacting, an apprentice trader who simply identified himself as Emeka, said that, “if not that the police were here very early, the hoodlums would have looted a lot of the victims like they did at the Ochanja market inferno.
“On the part of the fire service men, they tried their best but the speed of the surging inferno did not give room for intervention at the Jide zone that has about 400 shops which all perished”.
Some of the victims of the incident declined to comment on the ground that they were still in shock but the chairman of the market, Chief Okechukwu Ezeobodo, told newsmen that his shop was among those gutted by the inferno but added that he could not immediately ascertain the cause of the fire and extent of damages.
Meantime, as at the time of filing this report, there are still cries and wailing in the market by the victims most of whom were hospitalized sequel to shock they received on hearing and seeing their wares turned to ashes.
Governor Willie Obiano, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke also visited the scene after the incident, commiserated with the victims and promised to assist in their rehabilitation.