From Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
Sokoto traders were on Tuesday morning thrown into pandemonium following a fire outbreak that engulfed the state central market.
Our correspondent who visited the scene of the disaster reports that traders were seeing moving their wares out of the sections of the market that are yet to be engulfed by the fire.
Sources said the fire started in the early hours of Tuesday before the market’s gates could be opened at about 8 am. The development has hindered some traders from access to their shops.
A trader, Nura Adamu, who lost his shop to the fire, said he had just purchased clothing materials worth over five million naira two days ago before it was consumed by the inferno.
The Acting Director-General of Sokoto Fire Service, Sani Muhammad Budah, said all emergency vehicles within the metropolis were directed to the market.
He added that the source of the outbreak is not yet known, saying, ‘we are after stopping the inferno before going into an investigation, a great number of shops are involved.
‘Some traders would not be patient, they would try to go into their burning shops and may cause danger which may eventually lead to death,’ Budah told reporters.
The Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Kaoje, was at the scene in the company of the State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and other heads of security for an on-the-spot assessment.
In a statement released shortly after the visit by the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Muhammad Sadiq, detectives within the Command were drafted to curb possible criminal activity around the scene.
He said the personnel are preventing victims from unsafe entry into the market while also ensuring the free flow of traffic to aid firefighters, assist sister security agencies at the scene as well as preventing possible looting by hoodlums.
‘The [Sokoto] State Police Command hereby enjoins all commuters to avoid entirely the market area in order to make easier the fire fighting efforts and traffic control around the market,’ part of the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Governor’s Tambuwal has appointed a high-powered committee to investigate the incident and make recommendations to the state government.
The committee is headed by the state Deputy Governor, Hon Manir Muhammad Dan’Iya, and mandated to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the inferno, assess the extent of the damages wrought by the incident, recommend compensation for those who lost their property; and, and make recommendations on how to forestall future occurrence.
Other members of the Committee are the Chairman of the State House of Assembly (SOHA) Committee on Commerce, the Commissioners for Commerce, Lands and Housing, Hon Bashir Gidado as well as Hon Aminu Bala Bodinga.
The rest are the representative of the Sultanate Council, the Director-General of the Central Market, Director-General of the State Fire Service, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma, the President of the state Chamber of Commerce, Chairmen of the state Traders Association and the Central Market Traders.