Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Victims and landlords of last week fire disaster in Onitsha, Anambra State, have cried out that they have not received any money or donation from many Nigerians who visited the scene to commiserate with them.
The victims who disclosed this when they stormed the office of Chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area Mr. Emeka Asanya in protest, saying they only got a cheque of N1m and nothing more from the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige who visited the scene last week Saturday.
The spokespersons of the victims Mr. Anthony, Chinedu Okonkwo, and Chief Uchenna Udaegbe who broke down in tears while addressing the chairman challenged any politician or other good-spirited individuals that claimed that they gave the victims money to say who they gave the money because according them they never received any money.
They said that the public was misinformed that the fire gutted Ochanja market while it was about eight plazas and residential houses close to the market that were burnt completely, saying that those who visited the place were diverted to Ochanja market where little or nothing happened without going to the main place the fire destroyed.
The victims said that the main place the fire gutted were plazas at No.24 and No.25 Emordi Street, No. 59b Amobi Street and Zik Avenue and not necessarily Ochanja market as was generally believed, calling on the leadership of Ochanja market to account for the money donated by good-spirited Nigerians to the victims.
“We are not happy that Governor Obiano did not come to commiserate with us initially; but we later learnt that he was misinformed that it was Ochanja market that was gutted by fire without knowing that we are the people that our plazas, goods, shops and houses were completely burnt.
“We want to let the world know that we are the people that were affected and anybody doing anything to the victims should deal with us directly and not through Ochanja market leadership. We are telling the committee that are conducting a census of the victims and shops to come to our plazas so that we give them the list of those affected because we know our tenants and shop owners and should not compile fictitious names.
“We lost over N20 billion to the fire disaster and some people are trying to use it to enrich themselves by diverting the donation. Government should deal directly with the affected persons and not through any union,” the victims stated.
The chairman of the Onitsha South, Mr. Asanya who calmed the victims down, said that anybody that wanted to help the victims should do that directly, saying that he shared in their pain as a similar thing had happened to him in 1997 when his shops were gutted by fire at Main market, Onitsha.
Asanya, however, promised to immediately sink a borehole within seven days in the area to ensure smooth reconstruction of the place and to ensure that whenever such an incident happens, water would not be a problem.
The President of the Ochanja market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu, and Secretary, Mr. Peter Chibuike, had in a press conference on Tuesday denied receipt of any money from individuals, groups and corporate bodies who came to sympathise with them over the fire disaster that engulfed the market and other places.
He said that no money had been given to the leadership by any visitor in respect of the fire disaster at the market and plazas around it as alleged in some quarters that the money had been diverted.