Just weeks after some militants surrendered their arms to the governor of Imo State and pledged to embrace peace through the ongoing windows of dialogue opened by the presidency, the multi-million naira ultra-modern Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri, was on Wednesday, September 27, 2016 razed.
Ex-militants in the state were fingered as the culprits.
The incident which occurred midday consequently provoked pandemonium as both staff of the hospital and residents of nearby buildings scampered for safety and quickly took to their heels for fear of being consumed by the inferno.
Mostly affected by the fire include the casualty department and the emergency unit as well as the theatre and other sensitive sections.
Members of the public who quickly rushed to the scene of the calamity to see things for themselves expressed shock at the magnitude of the damage done by the fire. However, nobody died in the inferno.
Mrs. Ngozi Njoku, the state commissioner for health, when contacted on phone, declined comment, saying that she was outside the state.
She, however, promised to rush back to the state in order to access the situation at the hospital.
Shedding light on the incident, Police Public relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem (DSP), attributed it to a sharp misunderstanding between some ex-militants of the state origin who, he said, had just surrendered their arms at Government House, Owerri and some members of the state Security Network.
According to him, in the scuffle that ensued between the two within the vicinity of the Maria Assumpta Roundabout one of the ex-militants was shot by the members of the security network and was quickly rushed to the specialist hospital, Umuguma for urgent medical attention.
However, frustrated by the delay of the staff of the hospital on duty to attend to their colleague, the aggrieved ex-militants went berserk and consequently set the hospital complex ablaze.
Not done yet, Enwerem added that the restive youths also trooped to the secretariat of the Imo Security Network on Owerri-Aba Road and similarly burnt the complex to further vent their anger against the shooting of their colleague.
He said that a detachment of men of the state police command had been drafted to cordon off the two areas to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from capitalising on the unfortunate incidents to loot government property.