Tony Osauzo, Benin
A midnight fire has razed a section of the historic Urhokpota Hall in Benin City, the Edo State capital. Urhokpota, which means ‘Okpota’s gate’, was first built during the reign of Oba Ozolua in the 15th century.
It was reconstructed in 1906 and used for coronation activities of a new Oba.
The fire was said to have been put out by the combined efforts of Ogbe community as the Edo Fire Service reportedly failed to turn up.
One of the hall attendants, Mr Moses Obamwonyi, said he received an anonymous call that his office was on fire.
He said he quickly got to the place and ensured that the fire was put out.
”I asked a neighbour to take me here. I got here and went to the fire service department and they said they were handicapped. They said, besides having no water, their trucks were bad.
“I took the risk and put off the electrical switch. I ran to Ogbe community and shouted for help that Urhokpota is on fire. The community came out and we went to Ethiopia Publishing premises. They allowed us to use the water there. It was the water there and help from the community members that enabled us to curtail the fire.
”It would have gotten worse if not for the cooperation of the Ogbe community. This place would have become debris,” Obamwonyi said.
Chairman of Oredo Local Government Area, Mr Jelkins Osunde, could not be reached for comment.
Governor Godwin Obaseki first declared his intention to run for Governor at the Urhokpota hall in 2015.