Only a few shops in the market were spared in the Akesan market inferno as three persons were reportedly killed by men of the Operation Burst in Oyo town on Sunday following a protest against the failure of the men of the Oyo State Fire Service to extinguish the fire that ravaged the Akesan Market.
The victims were reportedly shot by the police while trying to repel the angry mob from destroying public facilities.
The Akesan Market is famous for the sale of a wide range of food items, local artefacts, clothing materials and household utensils, among others.
The fire, which reportedly started around 2.30am, destroyed wares estimated at several millions of naira and attempts to salvage the goods proved abortive..
The angry mob went wild when officials on duty at the fire station allegedly said they could not do anything to extinguish the fire because there was no water in the fire truck.
The enraged mob reportedly set the fire truck and other property at the station ablaze during the protest.
Firefighters from Ibadan arrived at the scene with backup from Ogbomoso a few hours later.
Eyewitnesses said police operatives attached to the Operation Burst fire live bullets, which claimed at least three lives.
Although the immediate cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained, eyewitnesses attributed the incident to an electric spark as affected traders were seen wailing and counting their losses.
Some of them appealed to the state government for help, while others called for the total overhaul of fire fighting facilities in the state.
A statement by the Secretary, Oyo Global Forum, Taiwo Adebayo, says the forum condemns the failure in governance and shall respond more appropriately on the situation later.
In his reaction, Governor Seyi Makinde expressed shock over the incident.
Makinde who sympathised with the family of the victims, appealed to the people to remain calm, while investigation is being carried out.
The state’s police command has described the alleged death of three persons during the protest as untrue.
A statement made available to journalists in Ibadan by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Olugbenga Fadeyi, said Contrary to widely spread news on the fire incident at the Akesan Market in Oyo town, there was no single shot from the police personnel in Oyo.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has sympathised with the government and people of Oyo State over the fire that gutted the Akesan Market in Oyo town.