Fire has become a relatively common occurrence in Nigeria as many cases are recorded annually. These are mostly common during dry season and harmattan period. However, several measures have been taken by the government to put a stop.
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, fire razed a 36-room building located on 4, Oremeji Street, Oke-Koto, Agege, Lagos. According to an inside source, the one-storey building and Boy’s Quarters (BQ) built by one late Sariyu Oloyede has since been taken over by her family. She didn’t have a child. It was alleged that the Oloyede family had issues among themselves over who takes over the property and when the court intervened, one of the brothers of the late owner whose name was not disclosed by the source, won the case 6 months ago and had since taken charge of the house collecting rents.
Earlier this year, the new landlord was said to have sold the house to a Hausa man who refused to pay up asking that the grave of the late owner of the house be removed. The grave was eventually removed earlier this month but the new owner (the Hausa man) was yet to take over before the fire incident which destroyed occupants’ properties and injured many.
The fire was said to have started in one of the rooms upstairs at around 6pm that fateful Tuesday and lasted for hours, destroying properties worth millions as many of the tenants were away in their work places.
ENCOMIUM Weekly was at the site of the ugly fire incident and interviewed those affected. Most of whom claimed they could not rescue a pin out of their property though no life was lost…
MUFUTI BANKOLE, Tenant
Our landlord does not stay here. The house has just been sold. I think it’s about 3 weeks ago they sold the house. I have been living here for the past 15 years and we have not experienced this kind of a thing before. I was at Abeokuta, Ogun state when I received a call around 7pm that our house was on fire. I had to rush down here. Those that were injured have been taken to the hospital.
The painful part of it is that I could not rescue a pin out of my property because no one could enter my apartment. The fire was much. I was prevented from going near it by my neighbours.
MRS. TEMITOPE, Tenant
I live in No. 6, the house beside the house (the right side). I stay in the boy’s quarters. We were affected by what happened because when the wall fell from upstairs, it fell directly on the boy’s quarters in my house and destroyed everything. My room was part of the ones damaged. We don’t have anywhere to stay. We slept outside yesterday. The government should come to our rescue. We have lost everything. Thank God no one was inside when it happened, something worse would have happened.
LATEEFAT ADEGOKE, Tenant
I was downstairs when I heard someone shouting ”Fire! Fire!’ but it was only a room affected then so, everybody focused on that room. Unfortunately, the fire had gotten to other rooms through the ceiling.
I have been living here for 26 years with my mother. This is where I got married and since I trade in front of the house, I still come here every day. Ever since I’ve been living here, there has not been any fire incident no matter how little. Our room is the last of the Boy’s Quarters. Nobody was killed in the fire but one of those that came to our rescue yesterday was injured and was rushed to the hospital.
MRS. AJIBOYE, Tenant
Immediately I got back from work, I dropped my things and came to the corridor. Somebody from the second street signaled to me and said a part of the house was burning and I raised an alarm immediately. I quickly rushed back to my room to switch all the gadgets off. When I got outside, I still called on the guys around to help switch off the meter because there was light. When it started, we called the fire services but they didn’t respond immediately.
Assuming they turned up on time, the case wouldn’t have gone out of hand because the fire started from a room.
SHERIFAT FOLORUNSHO, tenant
I was at my shop when I got a call that our house was burning and when I got back around 7pm, I could not go in to bring out my property. Everything went with the fire. When I got back, I met only the street boys and some neighbours putting out the fire. I didn’t meet any rescue team. Before the fire service came, it was after two hours. They came late.
I don’t know what actually caused the fire outbreak because I was at work when it happened. I work with the Lagos state government. I received a call about 7:30pm that the house was burning and I came down here. The cloth I wore to work yesterday is what I still have on me. When I arrived, I met the fire fighters and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency but I could not rescue any of my property. We have not experienced such in the past, it has never happened. I’ve been living here for the past seven years.
The landlord does not stay here. The real owner of the house is a woman and she is late. She didn’t have a child. Today makes it 21 days that they exhumed her remains because they had sold the house. The mallam whom they sold the house to insisted that the grave must be removed before he pays them the balance. We have not seen the man who sold the house. None of the family members has shown up. The mallam only came to sympathize with us.
ABIGAIL BANKOLE, tenant
I was watching the television when it stated. I just heard someone shouting that the house is on fire and before we knew what was going on, the whole building was on fire. My child’s certificates, wedding gifts, dishes of about six dozens and every other things we had were lost to the incident. I can’t say exactly what caused the fire outbreak but I know there was light when it happened.
I moved in on February 5 this year. I just spent two months and some days and now this is happening. Please, help us collect our money from our former landlord. It was when there was trouble in the family and they dragged themselves to court that the landlord won the case. He’s not the landlady’s son. The woman, I was told, had no child. He had already sold the house before he collected rent from me.
I explained to him that I collected loan to rent this house. He collected N140,000 from me. About three weeks ago, when they came to exhume the remains of the real owner, I confronted him and he said he did not sell the house. Later when I was disturbing him, his son told me that even if the house was sold, they will return my money. Even if he cannot return all, he should return money for damages that he collected because I didn’t damage anything. Now, my child’s certificates are gone. All my belongings are gone.
He told us he was coming to have meeting with us last two weeks. Up to this moment, we’ve not seen him. I don’t know his name, the receipt he gave me, it was Oloyede family they wrote on it.
-AZEEZAT KAREEM and SHUKURAT ALIMI