CITY OF BENIN – A power surge-related fire that destroyed products worth millions of naira has devastated the famed Lagos Street market in the centre of Benin City. This has sparked a verbal spat between the state government and the All Progressives Congress (APC), which has been blamed for the fire outbreak.
APC leadership should be questioned, the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, demanded in a statement, alleging that the fire incident was a diversionary tactic ahead of the 2023 elections because he claimed that similar situations had occurred in the state capital prior to the 2020 governorship elections.
He remarked, “Recall that the Eki Osa, Santana, and Oba Markets were set on fire before the 2020 gubernatorial election.
“With new elections on the horizon, the APC has turned to one of its diabolical and inhumane strategies, beginning with the Lagos Street fire event.
“The appropriate government agencies have started their inquiries into the Lagos Street fire disaster, and nothing will be overlooked because enough is enough. Both Mr. John Mayaki, Chairman of the Edo Media and Publicity Committee of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, and Col. David Imuse Rtd., APC State Chairman, are persons of interest and ought to be invited to assist with the investigation of not just this fire but all prior market fires on the eve of elections in Edo State.”
Mayaki lambasted Obaseki and his administration in a statement for allegedly failing to find a long-term solution to the frequent fire occurrences that devastated major marketplaces in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, particularly at the end of the year.
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Innocent women and traders in Edo State are forced to endure the awful tragedy of having their life investments and, in some cases, their only means of economic survival destroyed by fire breakouts made possible by the state government’s carelessness and recklessness, the speaker claimed. He claimed that a pattern had emerged in the episodes.
An eyewitness identified as Joseph Eboigbe, a cosmetics merchant in Lagos Street, claimed that there was no electricity on Tuesday until around 7 o’clock in the evening, when it was restored with a very high voltage and most of the shop owners had already left for home.
“On Tuesday, there was no light until around 7:00 p.m., but by that time, most people had left for home. At around 7.30 p.m., we started noticing smoke from one of the shops, but before anything serious could happen, there was this burst of flame, which is how everything caught fire. We had to call the fire service, who arrived, but before then, most of the shops were already on fire.
Because they arrived in two cars, they were able to put out the fire before it spread to nearby homes and other businesses.
Paul Umoh, a fire victim who claimed to have worked in one of the stores since 1981 and trades in kitchen items, claimed to have lost more than N10 million in the incident.