When 38-year-old Chidi Onye, closed his shop on Tuesday never in his wildest dreams did he ever imagine that his shop which had 56 motor engines and other expensive motor spare parts would be among the shops that would be razed down by unidentified arsonists.
However, Onye’s worst nightmare became his reality when he arrived at his shop on Wednesday morning and discovered that the goods in his shop alongside twenty others were consumed by masked men who invaded Akere Motor Parts and Allied Dealers Market, in the Olodi-Apapa area of Lagos State the previous night.
According to Chidi Onye who spoke to webteam@iplege2nigeria correspondent at the scene of the fire incident, I was asleep in the middle of the night when I received news that the market was on fire. Immediately, I called my security he said there was nothing he could do.
“I called some security operatives they said they can’t come to the scene which simply shows that it was a strategic attack.
“When I got to the shop in the morning, it was as if the ground should open up and swallow me. I couldn’t endure it. I couldn’t stand it. The entire market was gone. All my goods destroyed.”
Giving a rough estimate of what he lost to the fire incident, the father of two who deals in spare parts said, I had 56 vehicle engines and underneath that got burned in the incident. Each of them cost between N250,000 to N400,000. Do the calculation. That is excluding vehicle underneath.”
Lamenting, Chidi Onye said most of my capital is bank loans. I still have outstanding loans to pay the bank. It is just like rendering someone useless. I don’t know where to start. The banks that I collected loans from came to the scene yesterday to do an on-the-spot assessment.”
Like Chidi Onye, every trader in Akere Motor Parts and Allied Dealers Market, located in Olodi-Apapa area of Lagos State has one sour tale to tell following the invasion of the market by arsonists who razed down the market, that claimed the life of Baba Hakeem, the security guard for the taxi park beside the market, and also consumed goods worth millions of naira in the process.
Webteam@ipledge2nigeria reported that on Thursday scavengers were scavenging for items from the burnt rubble while the strong stench of burnt motor parts rented the air
Speaking on the incident, 39-year-old Okwudili revealed that at about 2 am I received a call from a food vendor who sells within the market but resides in the community. She said the market is on fire.
I was putting only shorts and a singlet I ran out of my house, there was no bike, so I ran from my house to the market. What I saw was so devastating. The fire was too much, I began to cry. Who have we offended that they decided to punish us this way?
Who is responsible for this, is it that they don’t want Igbos in Lagos anymore?
They keep saying one Nigeria, one Nigeria but they keep attacking us and destroying what we have built for years.”
“I have been trading here since 1992, that is 18 years. All I laboured for 18 years destroyed everything within a few hours. I am devastated because this is where I earn a living, to cater for my family and my children’s school. I don’t have any other business except this.”
Explaining further Okwudili said since the incident I haven’t been able to eat, it is only water I have been drinking because I am lost in thought and where to start. Those responsible for this will not go free. For all the pains they have caused us they will be punished.”
The market is not insured. But it is registered with the corporate affairs commission. We pay government level annually to the Lagos state government.
Appealing to the Federal and State Governments, Mr Ifeanyi Chukwu, the former chairman of Akere Motor Parts and Allied Dealers Market said the government should come to their aid.
According to 56 years old Ifeanyi Chukwu, “We would be glad if the government can come to our aid as promised. Let it be urgent, because, thousands of family feed from this Market.”
Explaining further, Ifeanyi Chukwu revealed that there was an attempted attack to burn down the market the previous week but for the timely intervention of security operatives, the perpetrators were unsuccessful. We reported the attempted attack to the police but they failed to provide adequate security.”
About five fire trucks came but they couldn’t do anything because the fire had already consumed everything.
Ifeanyi Chukwu who has been in the market for more than 25 years disclosed that he deals with spare parts: Toyota spare parts and other car parts. The total of my goods burnt is 15 million naira.”
“I feel sad about this incident especially because I have a family to take care of. At the moment, feeding is a very big problem. My heart is full of anger.
Meanwhile, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has directed the Commissioner of Police, Lagos, Idowu Owohunwa, to conduct a full investigation into the Akere fire incident and fish out the perpetrators.
Sanwo-Olu gave the order on Wednesday when he visited the scene of the midnight inferno to assess the damage.
The Governor, who met with the victims of the fire incident, conveyed his sympathy and pledged support for the traders in assuaging their loss.