In the early hours of Sunday morning, February 26, tragedy struck Maiduguri when a fire razed large sections of the popular Monday Market, Borno State’s largest market.
The cause of the fire was unknown at the time, but eyewitnesses told The PUNCH that it began between 2:30 and 3 a.m.
Residents are already speculating on political causes for the fire, which the Borno State Fire Service has been battling since 3 a.m.
Hundreds of traders were fleeing with whatever goods they could salvage from their shops in order to avoid losing everything if the fire spread.
“I lost everything in my five shops,” Abubakar Isa, a second-hand clothing dealer, tearfully said, adding, “I cannot immediately estimate the cost of my losses, but I can tell you that it is more than N30 million.”
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Musa Sulaiman had two shops of home decoration items such as rugs and suitcases.
“The two shops were all razed down, and I lost everything,” he told our correspondent in a guttural tone, estimating the cost of his losses at “nothing less than N50 million.”
Alhaji Modu Kijimi lost his two shops of empty sacks. He was too emotionally devastated to estimate the cost of his losses.
Alhaji Sani Idris Hausari, a major livestock dealer who has five shops of live chickens, guineafowl, and pigeons said he lost all his birds. He could not estimate the cost of his losses.
“Livestock sellers have lost about 20 shops with hundreds of birds,” he confirmed.