Relief materials donated to flood victims in Benue State were on Wednesday gutted by fire at the Local Government Education Authority Primary School, Wurukum, in Makurdi.
The materials were donations from corporate organisations, government and private individuals.
They were stored in a school and despite the needs of the flood victims, were not distributed. The floods had receded in most parts of the state with many victims returning to their homes and daily lives. But the materials meant for them were still being stored away by the state government.
The persons displaced by flood in the state were yet to receive their share of the N500 million donation from the Federal Government; while some were yet to obtain the materials.
Confirming the incident, the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency, Adikpo Agbatse, said the entire materials meant for the victims were destroyed in the fire.
“Nothing was taken from the place, everything kept in the store was destroyed by the fire,” he said.
He, however, declined to give the financial value of the materials. The items destroyed included bags of rice, millet, corn, cartons of Indomie noodles, mattresses, mats and blankets.
The Assistant Head Master of the school, Justin Damsa, who witnessed the inferno, recalled seeing billows of smoke that was later followed by the fire in two classrooms.
“I was in one of the classes late in the evening supervising renovation work in the school when the fire broke out,” he said.
“By this time there was nothing anybody could do since the fire had engulfed the entire building.
“The intervention of the fire service came too late; by this time, there was nothing anybody could do,” he added.
A correspondent who visited the scene saw villagers scavenge the remnants of the burnt materials.
Some of them picked burnt mattresses and blankets while others took away iron window frames.
One of the villagers said “since the government did not give them to us, we will pack them now that they are destroyed”.