Hoodlums loot goods, cash as fire outbreaks destroy shops, render residents homeless in Rivers



By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt

Two separate fire outbreaks have ravaged a market and makeshift apartments in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

Traders, whose goods, cash and properties were destroyed in one of the incidents that occurred at the Bishop Okoye Street market in Mile three axis of Port Harcourt, Rivers State have, however,  begged the state Governor Nyesom Wike for assistance.

The second fire outbreak left scores of residents at the Chief Odum axis of Ogunabali in Port Harcourt homeless as makeshift houses were destroyed in the area.

The two fire outbreaks which occurred on Friday destroyed goods and property worth millions of Naira.

Over 10 shops and warehouses were destroyed, while over 20 makeshift building were destroyed, with those affected calling on the state government to assist them.

At the Bishop Okoye street market, bags of foodstuff such as rice, beans, garri and drinks were burnt as some of the victims were seen trying to pick some remnants.

Sources said apart from the goods lost to the fire, hoodlums took advantage of the situation to break into some shops and carted away items, including cash.

Though the course of the fire could not be ascertained, some persons said said that a woman, who lived in one of the shops left something on the fire and went out.

The Rivers State Fire Service reportedly responded early but did not have enough water in their truck, as youths in the area also got water and helped in putting out the fire.

The Chairman of Bishop Okoye Shop Owners, Uche Okeke, lamented the looting by hoodlums.

He said: “The crowd here was excess. 80 per cent of people here are not traders, some of them are hoodlums. They only came to break into peoples’ shops, stealing their goods. The fire was something that was mysterious.

“We have not taking stock of the number. But I can tell you that all the warehouses in Bishop Okoye Street foodstuff market have been burnt down.

“The foodstuff burnt are Rice, beans, garri, groundnut oil, flour, drinks were affected. Because of the looting, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Mile three was here with his men and was calling for back up because of the crowd, but they didn’t come to assist him and because of that we have a lot of losses.

“The Rivers State Fire Service came, but if they had come earlier, the fire would have been stopped in one hour. Even when they came, they didn’t have enough water. We were here till past midnight.

“Some boys were here helping to stop the fire, others were here breaking into shops, even the ones that were not affected by the fire,” he stated.

One of the victims, Elder Kenan Lucky said he lost over 1800 bags of cement as his shop was completely burnt.

“I have about three trucks of load of items here, but you can see they are all gone. What can I say, I will appreciate if our governor can assist us financially and also help rebuild this place for us. Some bad boys went and break my other shop that was not affected in the fire and took away all the money in the safe,” he said.

Source: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics

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