The warehouse of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has been gutted by fire as some alleged hoodlums tried to cart away food and non food materials meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state.
Assessing the extent of damage at the warehouse, Acting Director General of SEMA, Princewill Ayim said the fire outbreak occurred around 9:00 p.m. Saturday night.
He said the items worth millions of Naira were donated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to alleviate the plight of the IDPs in the state.
He said the agency had already distributed majority of the items to the IDPs in Bakassi and had informed the leaders of the camps in Ogoja and Biase local government areas that the agency was coming with relief materials for them.
He stated that after a thorough investigation, it was revealed that the hoodlum broke into the warehouse through one of the air conditions to gain access to the materials.
He said it was not an electrical fault as the warehouse had been without electricity for over six years.
“Our investigation revealed that the hoodlums broke into one of the air condition to enter the warehouse. They set up the wood holding the air conditioner on fire to allow them in but eventually, the fire overwhelmed them and escalated to the whole warehouse.
“You can see the destruction that emanated from the fire outbreak. We have lost mattresses, bags of rice, beans, groundnut and palm oil, cartons of noodles and other items including the roof of the warehouse.
“We thank God for the 112 toll free emergency line that the National Communications Commission (NCC) had set up in the state in collaboration with SEMA. As soon as one of our staff saw the fire outbreak, he immediately called the line and the Fire Service responded promptly.
“We wish to appeal to the government and corporate organisations to assist in building a standard and well secured warehouse for storage of relief materials for the IDPs,’’ he said.
Ayim also stated that Governor Ben Ayade was desirous of the welfare of IDPs in the state and commended him for providing security, shelter and skill acquisition programmes for the IDPs and Cameroonian refugees in the state.