A senior official with the Benue State government, Serker Akaa, his wife and two children were burnt to death in a fire outbreak which engulfed their house in Makurdi, in the early hours of Monday.
Daily Trust reports that Akaa was until his death, an acting Permanent Secretary in the state’s Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology.
Witnesses said that the fire, suspected to have been caused by electrical surge started around 2:20am from the living room of the deceased house at Kwararafa Quarters in Makurdi metropolis, before spreading to other three adjourning flats.
An occupant of one of the three affected flats and a Chaplain of the Government House Chapel of Grace, Rev. Daniel Unongo, told our correspondent that he was awake at 2:45am when he heard the deceased wife and the children crying for help.
“I live in Flat 3. The fire started from the deceased flat, which is Flat 1, and affected four flats on the row. When I heard the late woman and her children screaming; I quickly ran outside my house to see what was happening.
“We (including other neighbours) tried to break through the doors and gate but it wasn’t accessible, even the window had double burglary. So we started fetching water soaked in detergent to quench the fire while we called the Fire Service and they arrived in less than 30minutes at about 3:20am,” he said.
Unongo added however that the four occupants of the house died before the arrival of the Fire Service even as it took the fire fighters another 30 minutes to break through the door to gain access.
Similarly, the woman in Flat 4, Mrs Josephine Iorhembe, whose house was also gutted by the fire, said she was praying at 3:00am, when she started hearing shrill cries from the deceased’s end of the apartment.
Iorhembe said she ran outside her house, joined other neighbours to fetch water in a bid to quench the fire but that their efforts could not yield any fruitful result before the voice of the weeping woman and her children faded away.
Our correspondent also gathered from relatives of the deceased that the late woman, Linda, was pregnant and her two kids; Tertsegh,6, and Sender Akaa, 3, as well as the father were full of life when they attended a thanksgiving service on Sunday at their ECWA church along Barracks road in Makurdi, barely 12 hours before the incident.
Meanwhile, the Police of Division ‘A’ led by its DPO were seen mounting surveillance at the site of the incident while they condoned off the affected houses.
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Catherine Anene, who confirmed the incident, however, said the cause of the fire was still unknown.
Anene said the corpse of the deceased government official and three of his family members have been recovered by the police and deposited at a hospital morgue.
Governor Samuel Ortom expressed sadness over the death of Seker Akaa, his wife and two children.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said the death of Akaa and his family is a painful loss to the state government and Benue in general.
Ortom consoled the bereaved family as well as their friends and relations over the incident and prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest.