Posted by News Express | 8 May 2021 | 817 times
Was Thursday’s fire incident at a popular L a g o s market caused by explosive devices planted by unknown persons?
This question was raised in government and security circles on Friday following a statement from an agency of the Lagos State government suggesting that it was caused by an explosion.
Kairo Market in Oshodi, also known as Abibat Mogaji Modern Market, went up in flames on Thursday evening, with about 91 shops completely razed.
Beyond the loss suffered by the traders using the burnt facility, the cause of the fire has now become a contention between the state first responder, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the state police leadership.
In a short statement on Friday, the Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Dr Olufemi Damilola OkeOsanyintolu, raised a security concern over preliminary findings. He raised a red flag of possible bomb attack as he spoke of suspicion of foul play.
According to him, explosives and accelerants were used by unknown persons to set the market on fire and level it. Providing an update, he said:
“Joint responders have contained the fire. Initial investigations suggest that some form of explosives/ accelerants were used, indicating some foul play. Relevant authorities, including the Nigeria Police, have been alerted to carry out further investigations. Updates to follow.”
The police, however, denied LASEMA’s assertion. In a counter-statement issued by the police spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said the inferno was not caused by either a bomb or explosives, adding that the fire outbreak was still being investigated. In the statement, Adejobi said: “The CP has debunked the rumour that the Oshodi market inferno was caused by bombing or explosives. The public is hereby urged to disregard such news or rumour. The CP visited the scene today, Friday, in company of Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) operatives to assess the scene and give their expert opinion. And no element of explosive was recovered from the scene. So, no explosive used.”
In a fresh update detailing operational challenges at the scene of the fire incident, Oke-Osanyintolu said: “Our firefighters were exposed to violence at the scene of the incident.
“Members of the public sabotaged our efforts by cutting our hoses in the middle to save their individual shops which affected the overall efforts of our personnel and damage to our equipment. Some members of our team were attacked with several sustaining injuries that required medical attention.
“It is of note that in the course of attempting to discharge their duties, first responders are being attacked. The agency intends to engage with the market authorities for sensitization on fire prevention and modalities of cooperation in such incidents.
The agency frowns on the assault and mistreatment of its personnel and will be carrying out an investigation.”
The Director General, while addressing newsmen on Friday at the scene of the fire incident, said “the fire started at about 8.02 p.m. on Thursday. Four offices in the administration building, 66 shops and 25 containerised shops were affected.”
He assured that the attackers of his officers would be arrested and prosecuted, adding that investigation was continuing to know the cause of the fire. One of the LASEMA fire truck drivers who spoke to Saturday Tribune said: “One of the traders hit me with a block of wood. His reason was that I did not point the water pipe at his shop that was burning. I was so angry that I almost left the scene of the incident.
“When we get calls for an emergency, we expect the nearest police station to send policemen to protect us but most of the time, we get to such places, to discover no police officer is on ground. They normally come late to scenes of emergencies, thereby endangering our lives.
“We cannot wait for police officers, so we normally start work because one minute delay can lead to the death of someone or more damage.” (Saturday Tribune)
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