Several artworks believed to be worth about N400 million were destroyed in the fire at the Abuja Arts and Craft Village Friday night.
Mr Kanayo Chukwumezie, president of the African Arts and Cultural Heritage Association (AACHA) said “We have not ascertained 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 arrived, almost all the shops were burnt: they were only able to extinguish the smoke. Artworks and other products for Christmas sales worth over N400 million were burnt to ashes.
“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 allowed to be staying overnight, this fire accident would 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.”
The fire which is believed to have started between 8:00pm and 9:00pm razed down shops quickly partly because the roofs were made of thatch, but some of the victims insist the incident could have been curtailed if shop owners were still allowed to sleep overnight in their shops.