Scores of traders were feared trapped on Thursday as a three-storey plaza collapsed at the Ochanja Market in Onitsha, Anambra State.
It was gathered that the plaza was among the buildings affected by a tanker fire in October that claimed several lives and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
PUNCH gathered that many people were inside the building when it collapsed around 4pm.
An eyewitness, who identified himself simply as Chuka, told PUNCH Metro, “Many traders fled on hearing an unusual noise, but I’m sure some are trapped in the rubble.
“I don’t think everybody escaped. Up until now, I have not seen my neighbour, who was in the plaza when it caved in. Most of the people were fast enough to escape, but I’m sure some are under the debris,” he said.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the incident.
He said no casualty had been recorded as of the time of filing the story.
“Yes, the building partially collapsed, but nobody is trapped and there is no loss of life and no injury sustained by any person,” Mohammed said.
He added that the scene of the incident had been visited by a police patrol team led by the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area.
Meanwhile, residents of Nung-Oku in the Ibesikpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State had a bleak Christmas as the state Ministry of Lands and Housing sent bulldozers to demolish some houses in the community.
It was gathered that the houses were demolished on Tuesday and Wednesday without prior notice, a development that generated reactions from members of the public.
The state Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Ome Ekpo, said the demolition was long overdue.
He stated, “The portion of the land where the buildings stood was acquired by the state government from the inception of the present administration for housing purposes and allocated to army and police officers of Akwa Ibom State origin.
“The portion was duly acquired, surveyed and compensation paid to the owners by the state government. The villagers were aware of this though the village head is now late.”
He added that shortly after the acquisition of the land, the villagers encroached on it and started building on it.
On why a prior notice was not served to the villagers before the demolition, the commissioner said, “We don’t give demolition notice on structures that are illegal.”
Ekpo added that because the ministry wanted to settle the matter amicably, a three-month notice was given to the people to vacate the land.