By; MOHAMMED MUNIRAT NASIR, Gusau
Arsonists suspected to be political thugs on Tuesday evening set ablaze the shopping complex of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Zamfara State Council secretariat, Gusau.
According to shop operators at the complex, the suspected thugs came and started vandalising one of the shops and later poured petrol on the plastic items in the shop and lit with fire.
The eye witnesses said the arsonists chased away the shop operators and others who may want to put off the fire and waited until the shop engulfed before leaving.
“They chase us away from our shops and made sure that the shop they attacked got engulfed in the inferno before they left.
“Before we could do anything more than four other shops had gone up in flames,” they said.
Malam Umar, one of the shop operators who sells provisions said when he got the opportunity to open his shop after the arsonists have left, his shop was full of smoke which made many people including those who wanted to steal come to assist in moving out the goods in his shop.
“Though fire did not burn my goods but most of my goods got smashed and stolen by some who pose as helpers.
“Honestly I can’t quantify what I lost now because I am yet to rearranged my shop to know what are missing or damaged,” he said.
Mohammed Rabiu a fashion designer who operates one of the shops said the arsonists deliberately stopped the people from providing help when the fire started which made the inferno to affect many shops.
“I and others were watching helplessly as the suspected thugs were unleashing terror on our shops because if not for the arrival of the fire service, maybe the entire NUJ Secretariat would have burned to ashes,” he said.
The fashion designer who also sells clothes said he is yet to ascertain what he lost during the rush hour as many entered his shop to pack out tailoring machines and clothes.
Malama Rahamatu a restaurant operator whose shop was one of the shop mostly affected by the inferno said she lost money and other valuables to the fire.
“I kept some money which was meant for buying items from Kano and left for home with intention to come back later in the evening to give the POS operator to transfer but before I came back the money and other things in the shop have gone up in flames,” she said.
The Acting Chairman of the Council, comrade Ibrahim Mohammed Boko and the Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Ahmed described the inferno as a disaster and a big dent to the revenue generation of the council.
The NUJ officials said approximate steps will be taken to avert further occurrence of the arsonists attack.