Vanguard (Lagos)

14 January 2013

Nigeria: Ajegunle Inferno - Victims Recount Their Ordeal

A PHARMACIST Mr. Chimezie Ojinkieme, started the year on a happy note having stocked his pharmacy with supplies from various pharmaceutical companies. In year 2004, this graduate of Imo State University acquired a warehouse at No 6 Mba Street, Achapo area of Ajegunle, Lagos State for stock piling of products. Since then, his business has grown to the tune of over N15M.

Precautionary measure

But Tuesday January 8, 2013 is a date he would live to remember. The day statrtrf on a bright note with business going on as usual until disaster struck. At 3.15pm that fateful day, he heard shouts of "Doctor", as he is fondly called, "fire! Fire!, within the neighbourhood.

He rushed out to see what the shout was about but saw no fire from any where. So, taking precautionary measure, he reached to the electricity metre and switched it off to avert any incident but he was minutes too late.

Just as he went back to his shop, he perceived the odour of smoke and immediately dashed out again to trace its source. As he looked around, he noticed thick smoke emanating from a neigbouring house where electronic products are sold. He quickly mobilised people to put off the fire as the owner was not around. Sympathisers tried to force the door open but were not successful and the fire went wild and engulfed the building thereafter extended to two other neighbouring buildings one of which was the popular "Latest Richmoore Pharmacy" in Achapo owned by Chimezie. Within seconds, the three buildings housing over 10 families were razed and property worth millions of Naira were destroyed.

Eye witnesses account said the Lagos State Fire Service arrived the scene late and could not put out the fire as there was insufficient water to combat the inferno. A helpless and speechless Chimezie burst into tears just starring at his labour for years go up in flames. "Where do I start from",he asked no one in particular. In another monologue he revealed: "Majority of these goods were supplied on credit..."

Final year law student

But Chimezie was not the only one with a sad tale to tell. His sibling Clementino Ojinkieme, a final year Law student of Imo State University also lost all her document, a sum of N30,000 and a cheque of N100,000 being a bursary award from Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.

In an emotion laden voice, she said: "Chimezie is our bread winner. I came home for the Yuletide and was planning to return to school when the inferno started. We have lost everything to the fire. Who will come to our aid now"?!

Other victims of the inferno include the owner of Peetee Transport, Mr.Jerry Samuel, who also lost property worth about N400,000 and a Daily Need dealer Chikwem Samuel, who also lost properry whose monetary worth could not be quantified.

Also, no fewer than 10 families have been rendered homeless by the inferno.

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