Hoodlums attack fire fighters, 200 shops burnt 


CITIZENS COMPASS – Some hoodlums have reportedly attacked a team of fire fighters deployed to combat an inferno which gutted about 200 shops at the Ojoto market in the Mile 2 axis of Diobu in Port Harcourt. 

Property worths millions of Naira were razed during the fire outbreak which occurred on Thursday night.

Time was about 9:15pm when many of the traders had already closed for the day.

Though the cause of the inferno could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report, eyewitnesses said it was from an electric spark when the public power supply was restored that night.

Some of them also said some people were cooking in the market which may have ignited the fire.

An eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, said, “There was power outage that night, so as soon as light was restored, we saw an electric spark.

“They said some people were cooking inside the market. So, as soon as that electric spark happened, the fire started from that shop. Before you know it, there was fire everywhere. All the shops got burned down, ” 

The fire spread fast with residents watching helplessly, as the inferno raged with thick black smoke billowing into the sky, hoping that firefighters were on the way. 

Our correspondent reports that when men of the fire service arrived at the scene eover an hour after the incident, some angry youths chased them and pelted stones at their vehicles.

Speaking with newsmen about the fire outbreak, the Chairman, Ojoto Market, Arinze Akupue, said nothing was removed from the market, saying he was at home a few minutes to 10pm when a security man called him that there was flame coming out of the market.

He stated that he headed for the State Fire Service, where he was advised to go to the federal secretariat to inform the Federal Fire Service, as the State Fire Service was handicapped.

Akupue disclosed that he drove to the Federal Secretariat where he informed the Federal Fire Service, and they followed him to the scene.

He debunked claims that there were people storing petroleum products or cooking in the market and condemned the attack on the fire fighters.

He further said while they were on their way with the fire service truck, he put a call across to the Divisional Police Officer of Illabuchi Divisional Station and they responded because the fire service needed security too to be on the ground.

“But as we got there, a lot of hoodlums were entering and looting. And they started throwing bottles and stones at the fire truck and their officers, and tried to mob them,” Akupue stated.

The Ojoto market chairman said he pleaded with the hoodlums to allow them to do their job, but they paid deaf ears and continued pelting stones to the extent that the fire fighters with the help of policemen had to drive to the Illabuchi Police Station for cover.

“At this point the market was already 85 percent down. I lost three of my shops and I didn’t pick up anything and others too. We had over 200 shops in that market. A lot of people have lost their livelihoods.”

While noting that none of the traders picked anything out of the marker, he called on the state government. 

to assist the traders start their lives again.

Contacted, the Commander, Federal Fire Service in Rivers State, Abdullahi Alfa, confirmed the attack on his men and their truck, describing it as unfortunate.

Series of attacks on emergency responders have been recorded across the country as people take laws into their hands. 


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