The Orchard Farm, belonging to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has been gutted by fire.
The farmland, located at Howe, a few kilometres away from Aliade, headquarters of the Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State, was said to have gone up in flames on Saturday.
The inferno reportedly burnt some parts of the farmland.
The ex-president acquired about 2,420 hectares of farmland in the community, where he planted fruits such as mango and orange.
Though no one could ascertain the cause of the fire, sources said some indigenes, who claimed they were not compensated for the land, set the farm on fire.
The Director of the state fire service, Donald Ikyaaza, who confirmed the incident, said firefighters deployed in the area put out the fire.
“My men who went there said the people were fighting for compensation for land. Maybe the land was not adequately compensated for, so that’s why they decided to set fire on the farm. That is the only information I got from them,” he added.
Ikyaaza also lamented that his men, who put out the fire, were robbed and beaten by suspected robbers.
He said, “In fact, my men while coming back in the night, armed robbers caught them, beat them seriously and collected all their handsets. That was the compensation we (firefighters) got for fighting the fire at Obasanjo’s farm. Not all the farm was burnt. Some trees are still there; the seeds were saved.”
In a related development, fire gutted the operational yard of a Warri, Delta State-based engineering procurement and construction company, destroying equipment and tankers.
Witnesses said the inferno, which wrecked the company’s complex located beside Amju Micro-Finance Bank, Effurun, started around 9am on Monday.
Residents and bank workers in the neighbourhood were said to have made spirited efforts to remove valuables from their houses and offices over fear that the fire could spread further.
Many others were said to have scampered to safety.
PUNCH Metro, however, gathered that the timely intervention of firefighters from the Delta State Fire Service prevented the inferno from escalating to the neighbouring business premises.
The cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained as of the time of filing this report.
Efforts to get comments from the Managing Director of the firm, Matthew Tonlagha, were rebuffed, just as the staff prevented journalists from taking pictures of the fire incident.
Fenog Nigeria Limited is an independent engineering procurement and construction firm that services different industries.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bright Edafe, could not be reached for comments on the fire disaster.
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