The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum has announced an emergency relief of N1 billion to support victims of Maiduguri’s Monday Market fire, pending assessment of the incident.
In a statewide broadcast soon after visiting the scene of the disaster, the Governor also announced that the military have mobilised to “secure the area to prevent a breakdown of law and order”.
He said he was “deeply pained” by the tragedy, noting that it was hurting for anyone to “work hard over years to build his or her business but end up losing that investment in seconds”.
” I have approved the release of N1 billion as emergency relief for us to quickly support victims of the disaster because we know that some of them may even have difficulty surviving the next few days,” Governor Zulum announced.
“Many rely on daily businesses in order to cater for themselves,” he said.
Also, he said an assessment committee would be set up, comprising “respectable individuals” from the society, including representatives of the victims.
He said he would also be requesting presidential intervention for the victims.
He appealed for calm, urging residents not to politicize the unfortunate incident.
The Maiduguri Monday market was gutted early Sunday morning by a fire, which was still raging by 9 am.
Operatives of Federal, state and University of Maiduguri fire services are battling to put out the blaze; however, a lack of access to the main market, and surging crowds have combined to hinder the operations.
Military, Police and other security agencies have also been deployed around the market to control the crowd and prevent looting of property.
When Radio Nigeria visited the scene, many traders were seen trying to salvage their remaining property.
In an interview with our Correspondent, Zonal Coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Usman Aji said all the emergency and security agencies were working hard to bring the fire under control.
He said “at the moment”, there had been no reported casualties. He called on traders and residents to remain calm.
The state Director of Fire Service, Umaru Kirawa, who confirmed the incident, said the state, Federal and other fire units from various institutions have joined to contain the inferno.
“We have fully deployed to contain the situation,” Mr Kirawa said.
Some of the traders interviewed said they were still in shock, as they had lost all their property to the blaze.
Buhari calls for vigilance
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari called for vigilance as winds and rising temperatures increase the risks of fire.
He commended the immediate response of Governor Zulum to the fire disaster, and directed “effective coordination and collaboration” between federal and state agencies.
The President urged agencies responsible for fire management to strive towards “higher levels of preparedness, mitigation efforts and strengthening their response mechanisms” to deal with increasing natural and man-made disasters
Similarly, The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq has directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to “ascertain the extent of damage and loss” at the scene.
The Minister described the incident as “unfortunate and a great loss to the nation’s economy”.
“This is a great loss to the country’s economy, especially Borno state, which is just beginning to recover from the destruction and losses as a result of insurgency and banditry,” Hajiya Umar-Farouq said.
Reports say the fire, which started at about 2 am, spread to different parts of the market, destroying many shops and property worth billions of Naira.
Reporting by Dauda Iliya, Abdullah Bello and Hadiza AbdulRahman; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino, Tina Oyinsan and Tony Okerafor