By Celestine Ajayi
Parts of Shehu Shagari Modern Market in Sokoto, popularly called New Market, were on Tuesday destroyed by early morning fire, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN reports that the inferno started around 6 a.m. and continued to ravage shops at the market till midday, as some yet to be affected traders trooped to evacuate their goods before the raging fire reached their shops.
The combined team of Sokoto State Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) were battling to put out the fire as at midday on Tuesday.
Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and men of the Nigerian Police were also on hand to maintain safety and security.
Sokoto State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Manniru Dan’iya, who was at the scene, sympathised with the victims and assured them of more efforts to end the fire.
Dan’iya said the source of the incident and level of damage could not be ascertained at present and urged people to remain calm as the efforts continue.
NAN, however, observed that attachment shops and other illegal structures erected at the market roads prevented fire engines good access to affected shops in the market.
Bulldozers were deployed to remove the temporary and illegal structures in order to facilitates more access to fire engines and officials.
A trader, Muhammad Bawa, told NAN that he lost goods worth N2 million as he could not remove anything from his shop.
NAN correspondent at the scene of the incident reports that scores of sympathisers and relatives of traders besieged the market to offer help, even as police apprehended some looters who were caught stealing from the shops.