By Abba Gwale
A trader, Fatima Abdullahi has said some hoodlums disguised as sympathisers exploited the situation to loot some of the shops while people were trying to extinguish the fire.
Fatimah said, her shop was not affected but those belonging to her friends, who travelled to Lagos and Onitsha, were affected.
“A friend called us around 8am that the market was on fire. We got there and tried to salvage whatever we could. My shop is not affected but those that belong to my friends are affected.
“Some hoodlums tried to loot money and valuables while we were busy trying to extinguish the fire,” she said.
Another trader, Umoh Udoh, said the fire could have been caused by a power surge, adding that power supply to the area had been epileptic in recent times.
Officials of the state fire service declined comments. One of them, who pleaded anonymity, said the appropriate government organ would make a statement on the incident later.
A senior police officer confirmed the arrest of some hoodlums while looting from the affected shops.
The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “We have arrested several hoodlums, who were trying to steal some of the goods from the market and they are being detained, but I cannot give you a specific number now as we are still arresting them as we see them.
The fire was also aided by the wild harmattan fire, which initially made the affected shops inaccessible on time.
Firefighters from the Federal Fire Service, state fire service and a private company as well as sympathisers assisted in extinguishing the inferno around 11.30am.
It was learnt that the Sabuwar Unguwa area, where the affected part of the market is located, had in recent times been experiencing epileptic power supply.