Hours after Lagos Emergency Management Agency said its investigation showed some for of explosive or accelerant was used in the fire which gutted Oshodi Market, police has ruled out any explosive being involved in the incident.
It signals a controversy over the cause of the fire, which started with an explosion on Thursday night.
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Lagos police spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi said police and expert investigations showed the fire was “not caused” by bombing or explosives.
“The commissioner of police has debunked the rumour that the Oshodi market inferno was caused by bombing or explosives. The public is hereby urged to disregard such news or rumour,” said Adejobi.
The CP visited the scene on Friday in company of Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) operatives to assess the scene and give their expert opinion. And no element of explosive was recovered from the scene. So, no explosives used,” he said.
Some 91 shops and four offices were burnt as a result of the explosion which occurred Thursday night at the fabric section of the market known as `Cairo Market’ in Oshodi.
Sources said that there have been intelligence that some group of persons, who they described as “disgruntle” had threatened to bomb the market.
Several traders sustained varying degrees of wounds while trying to salvage their goods.
Urchins were also said to have stormed the market to vandalize goods belonging to traders while security men attached to the market battle to chase them away from the area.
A witness, Shina Adebanjo, said the explosion occurred around 7.50pm but responders arrived several hours later, accounting for the huge loss.
“We heard an loud explosion followed by fire which raged on for hours” he said.
A trader, Chike Nwaneri, said he lost over N10 million to the inferno which destroyed all his shop.
“I lost everything in the fire. It started when I had left. I was only informed of the fire by a fellow trader. When I arrived, I met what was my shop in ruins,” he added.
Experts from the police Explosive Ordance Disposal Unit (EOD) of the force are currently analysing items recovered from the affected area.
Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), told news men on Friday that the fire started at 8.00 p.m. and lasted for hours.
Oke-Osanyintolu said a joint team of responders were able to contain the fire.
He said initial investigations suggest that some form of explosives/ accelerants were used and that it indicated some foul play.
“Relevant authorities including the Nigeria Police have been alerted to carry out further investigations. Our firefighters were exposed to violence at the above incident. Members of the public sabotaged our efforts by cutting our hoses in the middle to save their individual shops which affected the overall efforts of our personnel and damage to our equipment.
“Some members of our team were attacked with several sustaining injuries that required medical attention.
“It is of note that in the course of attempting to discharge their duties, first responders are being attacked. The agency intends to engage with the market authorities for sensitization on fire prevention and modalities of cooperation in such incidents. The Agency frowns on the assault and mistreatment of its personnel and will be carrying out an investigation,” he added.