On Sunday, a fire destroyed items worth millions of naira at Next Cash & Carry Supermarket in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja.
Around 9:00 a.m., the inferno that wrecked chaos in the area was claimed to have ignited. It completely destroyed the structure, yet no one was killed in the process.
Mr. Peter Obi, a former Governor of Anambra State, owns the supermarket, which is likely the largest in the nation’s capital in terms of size.
Obi was also a former vice presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, running on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform.
Some people blamed the amount of the damage on the firefighters’ late arrival, who were said to have arrived one hour after the distress call.
According to SaharaReporters, some supermarket employees arrived at the building as early as 8:00 a.m. to prepare for business.
The employees were still preparing when they discovered a fire on the first floor of the building, according to reports.
In an attempt to save the items, the workers attempted to use some of the fire extinguishers within the facility, only to discover that they were expired.
According to an eyewitness, the fire started at 9:00 a.m., and due to the fire’s ferocity, all efforts by staff employees and sympathisers to prevent it from spreading were fruitless.
It was also learned that an effort to activate the supermarket’s in-house backup fire engine to put out the blazing fire was unsuccessful since the workers could not locate the key to the truck.
Austin, a sympathiser who was alleged to be among the first responders. When firefighters and other rescue services got on the site, the entire structure was engulfed in flames, according to Daniel.
He said, “I have a barbershop close to this place and when we got to this place to help them to remove electronics, particularly Plasma Televisions and Home Theater, the firefighters had not come. The reason why the fire spread to the other side is that the firefighters came late.
“Some people came to loot but we stopped them with the help of vigilantes.
“Those firefighters came about one hour after they were called and some of their trucks that first got her did not have water, it was here they started looking for a fire hydrant to fill their tanks.
“Even the fire truck that was parked at the back of the building could not be used because they could not find the key. The fire extinguishers are not working too. It was only air that was inside when we tried to use them.”
However, four persons were arrested by the police for looting at the scene.
The Director-General of FCT Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA), Abas Idris, said they had not been able to ascertain the cause of the fire but an investigation had commenced.
He also debunked the insinuation that there was massive looting at the building when the fire broke out. He said those seen moving out trolleys were the workers of Next Cash & Carry and not looters.
He said, “We got the distress call and immediately activated all the responders who have been here on time, especially the security agencies to cordon off the place to avoid looting and they were here, including the police, civil defence, and Department of State Services (DSS).
“I was here around 9:00 am before the responders came and it was well coordinated and we did not allow anybody to come in.”
Babaji Sunday, the FCT Commissioner of Police, was also on the scene to survey the damage.
FCT firefighters, FEMA, Nigeria police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Julius Berger Fire Service, and DSS were among the first responders on the scene.
No fewer than 15 fire vehicles was sent to the location to put out the raging fire.