By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
Security has been beefed up around the famous Urhokpota hall in Benin City, the Edo State capital, hours after a midnight fire razed a portion of the building on Friday night.
The Urhokpota (“Okpota’s gate”) hall was built during the reign of Oba Ozolua in the 15th Century. It was reconstructed in 1906 and used for the coronation activities of a new Oba.
It is the hall where a new Oba of Benin and his name are first unveiled to the people.
Besides, Governor Godwin Obaseki first declared his intention to run as governor of the state at the Urhokpota hall in 2015.
A combined effort of Ogbe Community youths put out the fire following frustrating efforts to get firefighters to the venue of the fire incident.
One of the hall attendants, Mr. Moses Obamwonyi, said he received an anonymous call that his office was on fire and he quickly ran to the place to ensure that the fire was put out.
“I asked a neighbour to take me here. I got here and went to the fire service department and they said they were handicapped. They said besides having no water, they said their trucks were bad.
“It would have got worse if not for the cooperation of the Ogbe community. This place would have become debris,” he said.
Chairman of Oredo Local Government Area, Mr. Evbareke Jekins Osunde, could not be reached for comments.
Our correspondent reports that the premises housing the monument located in Oredo Local Government Area of the State has become a shelter for destitute and hoodlums due to neglect.