President of the African Arts and Cultural Heritage Association (AACHA), Mr

Speaking to NAN on Saturday, December 16, in Abuja,  Chukwumezie Abuja that the disaster caused a loss of over N400 million.

"We cannot ascertain the cause of the fire.

"When the fire started and the first two shops were burning, our members wanted to rush in to stop the fire, but the security at the gate by National Council for Art and Culture (NCAC) prevented them.

"Before the Fire Service could come, almost all the shops were burnt: they were only able to extinguish the smoke.

"Artists works and other products for Christmas sales worth over N400 million were burnt to ashes," Chukwumezie said.

He said that the NCAC has promised to put in place a fire service unit at the village to ensure prompt response to fire incidence "but nothing was done".

"We use to stay in the village over night, but when they told us to stop staying there and promised to provide security and anti-fire measures, we stopped staying overnight.

"If we were allow to be staying overnight, this fire accidence will have been controlled by those around.

"We appeal to the NCAC to come to the aid of those that lost their means of livelihood in the inferno," he said.

Meanwhile, one the victim of the fire, Malam Mohammed Lawal said he left the village around 8p.m. on the fateful day.

"I was called later around 10p.m. that the village is on fire. Before I could come back, serious damage has already been done.

"I believe if we were allowed to be staying overnight, such incidence will have been controlled before it cause havoc," Lawal said.

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Another shop owner, Mr Kennedy Idowu said he lost everything to the inferno including new art works and crafts for December sales.

A security guard at the gate, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the fire service was contacted immediately the fire started.

"Some people attempted to come in, but we are afraid of hooligans using the situation to loot and steal items from the shops.

"However, some of us attempted to control the fire, but it got out of our control because the shops’ roof were made of grass which are dried," the source said.

Efforts to get the reactions of the incidence from officials of the NCAC proved abortive.