At least three persons have allegedly been killed in Oyo town following gunshots by security operatives after some people protested against the failure of the fire-fighters in the town to respond to a ravaging fire incident at Akesan Market.
The fire, which started around 2:00 a.m., razed the market, leaving only a few shops and a filling station.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire-fighters, whose station is just opposite the market or some 20 metres away, could not respond.
Also, the Oyo Global Forum, a civic organisation in the ancient town, said: “Only a few shops and a filling station were not affected.
“Unfortunately, the Fire Service based in Oyo and just less than 20 metres to the market could not mobilise to stop the raging fire. The Service said its equipment was not functioning. Fire-fighters had to be mobilised from Ogbomoso Town, 50 kilometres away, after massive damage.
“We condemn this failure of government service. But more concerning is the disproportionate use of force in response to angry residents who were protesting at the gate of the fire service near Akesan in Oyo.
“Ogbomoso fire-fighters are currently fighting the fire and we hope it is stopped before further damage.
“We sympathise with our people, particularly men and women trading at Akesan. It is a sad way to start the year.
“In due course, we will be demanding that Oyo State Government should compensate the traders and rebuild the market, while also enforcing stricter safety standards across the state. We will also not allow the police to get away with the killings in Oyo.”
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Police Command has denied the reports that three people were killed while protesting failure of the fire-fighters in the town to respond to the fire incident.
In a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Olugbenga Fadeyi and made available to journalists in Ibadan yesterday, the police said: “Contrary to widely spread news on the fire incident at Akesan Market, there was no single shot from the police personnel in Oyo. Police personnel were deployed immediately to the scene to prevent hoodlums from capitalising on the situation to loot shops and property in the area. Concerted efforts are being intensified to prevent breakdown of law and order.”
However, the state governor, Seyi Makinde, has commiserated with the victims of the fire outbreak and promised to investigate cause of the incident.
Makinde, while reacting through his official Facebook account, said he received the shocking news of the fire outbreak and appealed for calm.
According to him: “I received with shock the news of the fire outbreak at Oja Akesan in Oyo Town in the early hours of this morning. Words cannot convey my deep sadness at this incident and I sympathise with the victims. I appeal for calm as we investigate the circumstances around the unfortunate incident.”