It was disaster on Monday evening in Edo as an inferno has razed down the POWA Plaza located on Etete road in the capital of the State, Benin, burning goods and properties worth billions of naira to ashes.
This is coming less than three months after a popular supermarket on Sapele road, Phil-Hallmark, was razed by fire.
TheNewsGuru reports the POWA Plaza is owned and managed by the Police Officers Wives Association (POWA).
Mrs Elkanah Ayuba, the Acting Chairperson of the association, confirmed the incident to newsmen on Tuesday in Benin, but said no life was lost.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria report, Ayuba said the fire, which reportedly started around 6.45 pm, affected 86 shops in the shopping plaza, adding that POWA has lost its source of income.
“One of my POWA members called me to inform me about the fire incident. I am still in shock right now as I speak to you.
“We do not know the actual cause of the fire, but we have reported to the police. After the investigation, we will be able to establish the actual cause of the fire.
“It is too early to start calling for any help.
“We have to go round and assess the level of damage in the plaza and evaluate how much goods were lost to the inferno before soliciting for help from the government and Nigerians,” Ayuba said.
The Zonal Police Public Relations Officer, Emeka Iheanacho, confirmed the incident to our correspondent on Tuesday.
Iheanacho said, “Yes, there was a fire incident at POWA shopping plaza. It was not at the zonal headquarters. Nobody could ascertain the cause of the fire, as of last night. But we did our best to mobilize and call the fire service, though before they came, the fire had done a great damage. People had lost so many goods and wares in their shops”.
While some witnesses are saying stockpile of gas cylinders could have resulted to the explosion heard, others said it could be electrical fault that gutted the shop where they had the gas cylinders, which now escalated the fire.
“But those things are unconfirmed reports. It is this morning that the Command must have intensified investigation to know the cause of the fire incident,” the police public relation officer said, adding that “It is a great loss to the POWA”.
Akpan said that other traders rescued his children from the smoke that had already covered his shop.
“I lost goods worth N5.6 million because I just stocked the shop last Friday,” the electrical and electronics dealer said.
Another shop owner, Onyeka Omenua, who repairs and sells generators, told our correspondent that he had received a call alerting him of the fire but could not salvage any of his goods as all of them were burnt to ashes.
“More than 100 generators were affected. I feel so pained. I am just confused; I don’t know where to start from now.
“About 10 generators worth N250,000 and about 50 or 30 generators worth N100,000. I am just jobless now but I thank God that I still have a handiwork,” said Omenua.
Mrs Bose Ajayi, a tailor in the complex, said that the inferno destroyed five sewing machines and clothes belonging to her customers.
“I closed early on Monday and just came this morning to open my shop, but there is no shop to open,” Ajayi said.
“I am appealing to government and Nigerians to come and assist us. The destruction is massive and goods worth billions of naira were lost,” she added.
The Acting Chairperson of the POWA has, however, urged all affected shop owners to remain calm, saying the Association would ascertain the level of damage and fully report on it.
The acting POWA chairperson expressed sympathy with the traders over their losses, but thanked God that no life was lost in the process.