Following the massive fire outbreak at the Next Cash & Carry Supermarket located at Jahi District of Abuja, on Sunday (Boxing Day), the management of the company has broken its silence and called for an extensive investigation into the incident.
The supermarket is owned by a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. Obi is also a former vice presidential candidate; he contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019.
The General Manager of the mall, Mr Neil Pape, in a statement on Wednesday, said the fire started around 10.45 am on Sunday.
He said the shop closed for the Christmas holiday on December 24, 2021, in order to allow its staff and customers to celebrate the season.
The company urged the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the incident to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the inferno, adding that the store was built and operated according to international standards.
The statement reads, “The shop was scheduled to open on the 26th December 2021 being Boxing Day at 12 pm. It is important to state that the cleaners, cashiers, security & bakery staff came into the shop in the early hours of 26th December 2021 to clean and get all the facets of the store ready for operations at 12 pm. The cleaners had barely finished cleaning the store when the fire started from one of the departments in the store. The staff immediately alerted the firefighters, as well as security operatives.
“They all assisted in no small measure to reduce the extent of the damage caused by the fire.
“Further to the foregoing, Next Cash and Carry Facilities & Store were built & operated according to international standards. As the General Manager of Next Cash and Carry Nigeria, I had worked in the best retail outlets in the world before joining Next Cash and Carry Nigeria and with my wealth of experience, I can confirm that the operations of Next Cash and Carry Nigeria and its facilities are of first-class standard.
“The roof covering of Next Cash & Carry building is fireproof and was built by Tower Aluminium, Kaduna. Next Cash and Carry Limited has a competent firefighting truck in Abuja which has assisted the Fire Service in several fire incidents in Abuja.
“The company has fire extinguishers and fire hose reels connected to the hydrant placed in strategic positions all within the store under the FCT Fire service supervision. The FCT Fire service conducts quarterly fire outbreak training for all staff & certifies all our operations. Next Cash and Carry has outsourced & employed a professional security company (Olode Security and Technology Nigeria.
“The company also has a staff strength of about 1,000 direct and indirect staff and over 3,000 vendors, with 200 farmers supplying items to the store.
“The company would like to appeal to the investigating authorities to conduct a thorough investigation to ascertain the immediate and remote cause of the fire outbreak which is strange and has the effect of adversely affecting future investments in the FCT and Nigeria at large.”