Tragedy struck in Oyo town after an early morning fire razed larger part of the ancient Akesan market with the men of the nearby fire service unable to curtail the situation.
The situation got messier when youths vented their anger on the fire service, who attributed their incapacities to non-functional equipment at the disposal.
The youths, in their hundreds, had stormed the fire station burning tyres in the process.
The situation attracted the attention of the security operatives said to have used live bullets on the protesters, killing three people in the process.
To battle the raging inferno, a reinforcement of fire fighter has been mobilised from Ibadan, the capital city and Ogbomosho, which is about 50 kilometres away.
Although, source could not give the exact identity of the security operatives, who fired the shots that fell three of the protesting youths, operative of the state owned anti crime outfit, codenamed Operations Burst were fingered as the suspects.
When contacted, the State Police Spokesman denied that the bullets of the police fell the protesters but that he would intensify investigation to unravel the culprit.
He assured that more men have been drafted to the scene to restore normalcy and help put out the fire out completely.
Worried by the development, 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.
While condemning the government for providing the necessary equipment for the fire fighters to work with, especially in the particular season, the group also kicked against what it described as disproportionate use of force in response to angry residents by the security operatives who led to the death of three innocent and harmless youths.
The statement signed by the Secretary of the group, Mr Taiwo Hassan Adebayo also said in due course it would demand from the government due compensation and rebuilding of the market.
The statement reads in part “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.”
As at the time of filing this report, fire fighters are still on ground battling the inferno and save whatever that could be saved.
The fire was said to have started around 1am with no one able to ascertain the cause of the fire yet.