The warehouse of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency has been gutted by fire as some alleged hoodlums tried to cart away food and non food materials meant for Internally Displaced Persons in the state.
Assessing the extent of damage at the warehouse, Princewill Ayim, the Acting Director General of SEMA, said the fire outbreak occurred around 9pm on Saturday.
Ayim told the News Agency of Nigeria that the items, worth millions of Naira, were donated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency 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 explained 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 added that it was not an electrical fault as the warehouse had been without electricity for over six years.
Ayim said: “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 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.”
Ayim, who stated that Governor Ben Ayade of the state was desirous of the welfare of IDPs in the state, commended him for providing security, shelter and skill acquisition programmes for the IDPs and Cameroonian refugees in the state.
He said: “As we speak, the number of IDPs in the state is on the increase.
“Some are being displaced by flooding, communal crisis, windstorm and other disasters.
“More so, the number of Cameroonian refugees into the state is on the increase because of the current crisis in Cameroon.
“In all of these, Governor Ayade is doing his best in finding a comfortable shelter for them while partnering with foreign organisations to alleviate their plights.”