Large part of multi billion Naira Monday Market in Maiduguri, perhaps the largest market in the Northeast was razed by strange fire before break of dawn on Sunday.
The fire was said to have broken out at about 2 am and could not be quenched until about 10am, leaving several billions of Naira worth of ware destroyed.
Many of the marketers who spoke to journalists on the incident were bewildered not knowing what could have happened, some of them suggested that it might have been as a result of short circuiting of electrical connections in one of the shop shortly after midnight.
Meanwhile, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum in a quick statewide broadcast on Sunday morning
announced an emergency relief of N1 billion to provide urgent support to victims, pending assessment of the incident.
The Governor’s spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau, in a statement said Zulum made a broadcast soon after he had visited the scene of the incident and had mobilized armed forces to secure the area to prevent breakdown of law and order.
Zulum, in his broadcast in Hausa and Kanuri languages to the people of the state, said: “My fellow people of Borno State, We woke up today with a very sad and unfortunate fire disaster at the Maiduguri Monday market. This is very unfortunate but we believe that this is decreed by Allah. Inna lillahi Wa inna ilayhi raajiun. I feel deeply pained by this incident and I know how painful it is for anyone to work hard over years to build his or her business but end up losing that investment in seconds.
“I really feel the pains of everyone affected by this incident. I commiserate with all of you. I kindly and most respectfully urge you to be calm and patient. I know how bad you feel and insha’Allah, the Borno State Government is already taking the following measures to ameliorate the situation:
“I have approved the release of one billion naira as emergency relief for us to quickly support victims of the disaster because we know that some of them may even have difficulty of surviving the next few days. Many rely on daily businesses in order to cater for themselves.
“We are setting up an assessment committee that will comprise respectable individuals from our society including representatives of the victims, for us to speedily assess damages, and take comprehensive list of those affected and their loses. I will also be holding meeting with leadership of the market and representatives of victims.”
He promised them that he would be seeing President Muhammadu Buhari to seek for presidential intervention on how to get support for victims, “we will also reach out to other humanitarian establishments to seek help.
“Insha’Allah, we will be taking firm measures towards preventing reoccurrence of this fire disaster that has occurred in previous years. I will like to respectfully appeal to everyone for calmness. I know how you feel. I feel your pain and we will support you through whatever means we can, insha’Allah.”
He however urged them not to politicize this unfortunate incident..
The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq has described the incident as unfortunate and a great loss to the nation’s economy.
She said: “We received the sad news early this morning of the fire disaster which engulfed the biggest market in Maiduguri. We understand that goods and shops worth billions of naira have been destroyed by the raging fire.
“This is a great loss to the country’s economy, especially Borno state which is just beginning to recover from the destruction and losses as a result of insurgency and banditry. We sympathize with the state government and people of Borno state, especially the traders whose livelihoods have gone up in flames following the fire incident.
“I have directed the National Emergency Management Agency NEMA to help with Search and Rescue operations of property to see what can be salvaged and to ascertain the level of damage and loss at the Monday Market”.
She noted that the 35 year old Monday Market is the largest trading hub in the North East, and hundreds of shops and warehouses were said to be affected by the inferno.
The Governor of Yobe State, Hon. Mai Mala Buni has sympathised with the government and people of Borno state, over the Monday Market fire inferno which razed the market.
The governor in a statement signed by his spokesman, Mamman Mohammed, i described as sad, regrettable and unfortunate the fire inferno at the market, a business hub that provides means of livelihood to many people.
He said: “It is sad that this incident happened at a time when the people are recovering their economic lives from the protracted security challenge that crippled the economic sector in the Northeast region.
“The government and people of Yobe state are with you at this trying moment and pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to replenish your loss in His best ways.
“We feel the pain of this sad loss, we are with you and pray to Allah for His infinite intervention.
“As people of faith we have a strong believe that God almighty has power over everything and would see the victims through this difficult and painful moment.”
The governor prayed to Allah to console the victims, grant them the support to pick up their lives and forestall any future occurrence.
Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri