Akwa Ibom: 5,000 homeless as fire guts fishing community
No fewer than 2,000 houses have been burnt and over 5,000 people rendered homeless following a fire incident that occurred in the early hours of Friday at Iwoukpom community in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The cause of the fire could not be ascertained as at press time but our correspondent confirmed properties worth millions have been destroyed in the fishing community mostly occupied by Yoruba fishermen.
Most of the buildings were constructed with wood, increasing the fatality as fishing equipment and fishes were burnt.
It was also not known immediately if lives were lost.
Loud wailings from victims were heard as the recounted their losses.
Mrs. Idongesit Udoh, a mother of three children was crying and waling that she could not picked a pin before the inferno rendered her homeless.
“The entire building was raised completely and I could not pick a pin in the house,” she lamented.
She called on the State Government, spirited individuals, multinational companies and NGOs to come to their rescue, lamenting that she does not have room on her head anymore.
Udoh called on National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide relief materials to the affected victims to ameliorate their suffering.
Hon. Sunday Isokobo, Vice Chairman, Ibeno local government area described the inferno as a “serious disaster”, saying nobody could salvage anything.
“About 1 am this morning, I received a call from my brothers and sisters living in this fishing settlement at Iwoukpom, that there is a very serious fire disaster taking place here,” he said.
He explained that the inferno completely razed down a lot of buildings and wooden houses and uncountable fishing equipment worth millions were destroyed in the area.
Isokobo however, said that nobody could give the cause of the inferno.
He promised to give relief materials to the affected families to ameliorate the suffering of the victims and called on the state government, oil companies to come to the aid of the affected fire incident.
The Vice Chairman appealed to State Government, Donor Agencies, International Communities among others as a matter of urgency to provide relief materials and camp to affected inferno victims.
“We will give them relief materials to start with and think of permanent ways of giving them back hope, especially the fisher men who had lost their livelihood to inferno.
“It is a pity that the inferno also affected my father’s house, I am begging government, donor agencies, international communities, oil companies to come to their aid,” Isokobo appealed.
The leader of the Yoruba community, Mr Foli Ogungbemi, Special Adviser to the Chairman of Ibeno on non- indigenes, said the entire place were settled mostly by Yoruba people.
He said that when the incident happened the people were running for their safety and none could really know the root cause of the inferno.
Ogungbemi explained that Iwuokpum is the highly populated with Yoruba indigenes and the economy hub of Ibeno.
Meanwhile,Governor Udom Emmanuel representated by Secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem has visited the scene of a fire incident at Iwuokpom, Ibeno local government area.
He was accompanied by Commissioner for Special Duties and Aviation Development, Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh with Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Ekaiko
The SSG later visited the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, His Majesty Owong Dr. Effiong Archianga at his palace to sympathize with him on the incident.
In attendance were the Vice Chairman of Ibeno Local Government Area, Hon. Sunday Isokobo, Chairman State Scholarship Board, High Chief William Mkpa, Village Head of Iwuokpom, Chief Okon Akpanowong, President of Mkpanak Youth Council, Comrade Kingsley Asuquo, among others.