Three persons have been reported dead after security operatives fired shots at mob who were protesting the failure of firefighters to curtail the inferno that broke out on Sunday morning, in Akesan market, Oyo State.
The early morning fire razed a larger part of the ancient market leaving only a few shops and a filling station, according to reports.
The fire service, whose station was said to be 20 metres away, could not respond and allegedly complained that their equipment was not functioning.
This, however, did not go down well with angry youths who saw goods ruin in the inferno, as they marched in their numbers to the fire station and started another fire in the process with used tyres.
The situation attracted the attention of the security operatives who were said to have used live bullets on the protesters, killing three people in the process.
Although, It is not clear the exact identity of the security operatives, who fired the shots.
A reinforcement of firefighter has been mobilised from Ibadan, the capital city and Ogbomosho, which is about 50 kilometres away, to quench the inferno.
Speaking on the incident, an Oyo Town-based youth group, Oyo Global Forum said a good part of the market would have been saved if the nearby fire station had functional equipment.
A statement signed by the Secretary of the group, Taiwo Hassan Adebayo said: “Tragedies struck in Oyo Town in the early hours of Sunday, January 5, 2020, as fire razed Akesan Market, the town’s main commercial centre, almost entirely and the Police killed at least three persons protesting failure of the fire service. 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. Firefighters then 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 firefighters 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.”