Fire razes 118 shops in Jos market
• INEC bars voters with no PVC from Plateau bye-election
A MIDNIGHT fire destroyed 118 shops at the Kabong market in Jos North, Plateau State yesterday morning.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who visited the market, could not gain access into the burnt section as some shops were still in flames. Others also had thick smoke billowing from them, making visibility very difficult.
The actual cause of the fire could not be ascertained, but Mr. Christopher Jama, Chairman, Kabong Market Traders Association, who briefed Governor Simon Lalong when he visited the scene, said the fire started midnight, continuing until 4a.m.
Jama claimed that an electrical spark caused the fire when public power supply was restored in the night.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned those without Permanent Voters’ Cards to stay away from the 42 polling units in tomorrow’s bye-elections in the state.
INEC Human Relations Officer, Mr. Osaretin Imahiyereobo, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Qua’an Pan.
“Only those eligible voters who have their PVCs will be allowed access to the 42 polling units of the constituency to queue for accreditation and voting proper. Any person who flouts this order will find him or herself to blame as the security operatives will deal decisively with any intruder or mischief makers during the by-election,” he warned.
Jama told Governor Lalong that 118 shops were completely burnt, and noted that goods destroyed included bags of maize, beans, rice, and poultry products.
He appealed to the governor to come to the aid of the affected traders “whose means of livelihood had been destroyed.”
Lalong, who expressed ‘deep shock’ at the development, promised to remodel the market and also address the traders’ plight.
“Government was already working towards remodeling before the inferno,” he said.
He however, expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost.
The governor directed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce to liaise with the market union to get details of the incident.
The market was still inaccessible as of the time of the governor’s visit as smoke was still billowing from the burnt shops.
The INEC chief explained that all the human and material resources needed for the election was ready, adding that all the electoral materials, including the ballot papers, had been collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for onward movement to Qua’an Pan.
“INEC has completed the training of all the Ad-hoc staff and they will soon be deployed to their various polling units for the election. We have also concluded the training of all the Collation Officers, Supervisory/Presiding Officers for a successful and credible by-election in Qua’an Pan,” he said.
Imahiyereobo called on the people of the constituency to be law abiding and conduct themselves peacefully during and after the election for the development of the area and the state.