Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
January 30, 2019, will remain indelible in the life of 42-year-old businessman, Okoye Samuel Chuckwuma, whose warehouse was gutted by fire in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Okoye told Daily Sun that fire razed his warehouse on the said day and destroyed all the motorcycle parts stored in the two-storey building.
Narrating how the incident happened, Okoye, a resident of Olorunsogo Street, Amilegbe, Ilorin, in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State, said: “I was in my shop at G138, Ojagboro Road, Ilorin, where I was attending to customers when I received a call around 6.30pm that there was fire in the building I used as warehouse for my business.
“I don’t know how it started. I was still at my shop when I was called that my warehouse was on fire. By the time I rushed there, everywhere was on fire. With the help of neighbours and the Kwara State Fire Service, the fire was put out but by then the goods inside were completely burnt.
Asked if he could quantify his loss, the businessman, who hails from Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State, said: “The loss is too much. I do not know where to start from because everything was being collected on credit. We would sell and return to the suppliers. They just supplied a lot of goods a few days before that day.”
He said he did not suspect anyone, adding that the fire was a mystery to him because there was no electricity when the incident occurred. He said it was when the fire was raging that power was restored but there was outage again as some of his neighbours alerted the electricity company.
The bewildered Okoye, who was supervising the evacuation of the burnt goods, wailed: “Where can I start from now? All the goods are on credit. The suppliers will have to get their money. Please, help me appeal to Nigerians. I want them to come to my aid because I lost all that I laboured for. The loss is enormous. We should be talking of about N100 million worth of goods that I lost.
“My appeal to government and good people of Nigeria is to come to my aid because I do not know where to start again. All the things I have been labouring for just disappeared in a few minutes. And I do not know how I would pay back the debt, it is too much. I appeal for help from every citizen of this country and the society at large to revamp my business.”
According to him, the neighbours invited the fire service and they came with two trucks but, before their arrival, the whole warehouse had been razed.
Confirming the incident, the Kwara State Fire Service attributed it to arson or a wilful act.
The head of the department, media and publicity, Kwara State Fire Service, Mr. Adekunle Hassan, said that the agency was not informed on time, adding that the inferno had escalated before his team got to the scene. He noted, however, that the fire was brought under control within eight minutes.