By Joseph Ibata
Reports have emerged that the fire which razed down College of Education,Warri (COEWA) Senior Staff Multi Purpose Co-operative Society in the early hours of Friday January 19 in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, have been blamed on the sharp practice called illegal bunkering.
Products and several properties worth millions of naira were destroyed as a result of the inferno.
This is coming as the Police in “B” Division Warri have arrested the Chairman of the COEWA Senior Staff Multi Purpose Co-operative Society, Chief Francis Ovierovie and the Manager of the filling station for questioning.
It was learnt that the fire started as a result of an illegal bunkering site allegedly operated by an unidentified woman behind the filling station.
An eyewitness who craved anonymity said the generator used in powering the place where the illegal product was allegedly being stored behind the filling station developed a fault and became too hot.
It was in the process, it was overtaken by fire burning drums containing the illegal products.
The eyewitness stated that fire overpowered them and the management of filling station failed to call for help.
According to the eyewitness, “It took the swift intervention of the Delta State Fire Service and the Divisional Police Officer”B” Division in Warri, CSP Anieteh Eyoh to put off the fire and save same from spreading to other parts of the school premises.
Though the fire service tried in putting off the fire but before they came, the damage had already been done.”
Whether Officials of the College are involved in the illegal bunkering business taking place behind the College is yet to be revealed by the Police.
The Warri South Council Chairman, Hon. Michael Tidi who visited the scene of the incident said,”It’s a very pathetic situation”, It’s an emergency situation” just as he described it as the height of “mischief”.
According to Hon. Tidi,”I can’t believe such a thing can be done inside town. In fact, this is the height of mischief because this is a filling station here. Behind, they do this thing. This is disheartening.”
Hon. Tidi attributed the incident to the crave for quick wealth by Nigerians stressing that,”If not for the intervention of the fire service from my Local Government you can imagine the extent of damage it would have caused.”
the Chairman advised Nigerians particularly Deltans to desist from the illegal bunkering business adding that the council will encourage security agencies to go after whoever is involved in the acts and charge them to Court.
In his words,”They should desist from it because we will definitely encourage the security agencies to go after them. Whatever damage that has been done definitely will be charged to Court.”
Contacted, the Public Relations of Officer of the College of Education who refused to disclose her names said, “If they are doing anything contrary to why they are there, it is not before this Office” just as she referred Journalists to the Provost of the College.
At the Office of the Provost of the College, Prof. Mary Edema evaded Journalists, directing them to speak with the Registrar saying,”I don’t have knowledge of the happenings there.”