A lawyer, Afam Obi, whose office in Upper Market Road, Onitsha, was one of those burnt on Wednesday night, says he has not only suffered loss of property to fire but to ‘merciless vandals’.
He claims they gained access into the building by Dennis Memorial Grammar Schools (DMGS) Roundabout while efforts were on to put out the fire, not to help but to loot.
A tanker carrying diesel had slipped while negotiating a bend, exploded and caught fire.
Narrating the ordeal to reporters, he said he had closed for the day at about 6:30 p.m. and was at a bar close to the office when the fire started.
“Just where I was still taking a bottle, people were calling me left and right that our building was burning.
“By the time I could get to DMGS there, I saw flames with one tanker over there, I thought it was a joke. By the time I could come over to this place what my eyes saw, I could not say it.
“All our offices were vandalised. I lost so many things. These are some of the lawyers’ (burnt) vehicles. It is unquantifiable, unquantifiable,” he emphasised.
“How I wish could take you inside so that you can see what people did with axe. They destroyed all our doors and carted away our property. Is that how people behave?”
The looting had occurred amidst efforts by fire fighting men and a large dispatch of security personnel ranging from the Police, Army, Civil Defense, Road Safety and even the Red Cross to put out the inferno.
No casualty has been reported, but buildings, vehicles and property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
Bookshops, Electronic outlets and other business centers were not spared.
Eyewitnesses said the tanker driver was negotiating the DMGS roundabout when it skidded and exploded immediately, spreading fire to several buildings, offices and shops within the area.
Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Tony Nnacheta, decried the enormity of the disaster but remained grateful to God that no life was lost.
“It is an unfortunate incident but with gratitude to God that despite the enormity of the disaster and the time of occurrence, no life is lost,” he said while addressing reporters.
The state Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Sunday Ajayi, said there would be an investigation into what caused the falling of the tanker, as the driver should, ordinarily, be able to navigate the roundabout if truly he was a driver.
The incident raises concern about the level of implementation of the Urban Planning Laws discourages citing of certain investments like fuel stations near residential buildings
- News 24