Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has promised to release the sum of N50 million to traders whose shops were raised by a mysterious fire at the Makurdi Modern Market on Tuesday evening.
Our correspondent gathered that over 200 shops were consumed by the fire which started around 6:30pm shortly after the traders had closed from the market.
The governor who visited the market on Wednesday morning on an on-the-spot assessment, lamented the extent of damage and urged the affected traders not to be discouraged but have faith in God, maintaining that when there is life, there is hope.
“This is one incident too many. We all recalled that we had fire incidence in Gboko market, Wadata market and now modern markets. And for modern market, this is the third time it is happening within a few years.
“This alone is one too many and we do not deserve it again. We pray it never happens again and we must take some proactive steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
While promising that the state government would not abandon the traders in their moment of trial, the governor disclosed that a commission of inquiry would be set up to identify the immediate and remote causes of all the fire incidences in the market with a view to ensuring such never happens again.
Ortom who lamented that billions of naira had been lost to the inferno said the commission would among other things, also look into the issues surrounding the suspension of the market union as well as seek ways to ensure that all parts of the market which had been burnt down were rebuilt.
Earlier in a remark, the Ter Makurdi, HRH Sule Abenga, who sympathised with all the affected traders urged them not to despair but trust in God to bring them out of the predicament.
The traditional ruler who noted that the fire incidence had affected the economy of the state also called on the Federal government to assist the state government in ameliorating the plight of the people.
Some of the affected traders who lamented their loses stated that they had just left the market when they were informed of the fire outbreak adding that before they could get back to the market, the damage had already been done.
They attributed the cause of the incidence to a mysterious fire as according to them, there was no power supply at the time the incident occurred.