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Looting is no solution to hardship

On February 22, 2024, Nigeria was greeted with the ugly sight of citizens looting food items in Niger State. They had disrupted a protest by…

On February 22, 2024, Nigeria was greeted with the ugly sight of citizens looting food items in Niger State. They had disrupted a protest by fish vendors, who were lamenting the increase in fish prices and attacked trucks stuck in traffic along Kaduna road in the Suleja area of the state.

While confirming the incident, Sadiq Bala, a candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for the Suleja constituency, explained that the fish sellers were protesting the steep increase in fish prices.

“Some passers-by came and took over the protest. They blocked the Abuja-Kaduna road, which is a very busy road, so they were able to draw attention,” Bala stated.

According to Bala, the situation escalated when the hoodlums began looting trucks carrying food items. “One of the trucks was carrying bags of rice. They were able to overwhelm the driver, and some of them even started celebrating,” he added.

And on March 1, 2024, a truck conveying cartons of spaghetti was attacked by hoodlums at the Dogarawa axis of the Zaria-Kano expressway. On March 3, 2024, hoodlums broke into a government storage facility in Gwagwa town in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and looted food items.  It was gathered that youths in their numbers broke into the warehouse located around the Tasha area of the community around 7am and looted bags of maize and other grains. Furthermore, on March 5, 2024, hoodlums invaded the warehouse of one Ibrahim Murtala Gusau, in Abuja.

According to the businessman, the hoodlums stormed his store situated in the Sabuwar-Unguwa area of the community around 9am and made away with bags of rice, beans, sugar and other items.

These attacks came on the heels of protests in parts of the country over the rising cost of food items and other commodities and general hardship among the people. However, this is not the way to go. Nothing justifies crime; not even hunger. 

We, therefore, condemn these attacks and looting in very strong terms and ask that they should stop immediately. The incidents, which were seen on television and social media, are a sorry sight and cast the citizens and nation in a very bad light. Stealing can never be the solution to any form of hardship.  No doubt there is hardship in the land, with many people unable to feed themselves and their families not to talk of attending to other issues. In the cause of the looting, some private Nigerians, who may also be facing the same hardship fell victim. Videos from the incidents have shown that not everyone engaged in the act was there because of hunger, as in some instances, people were seen carting away doors and roofing sheets. This, therefore, means that some persons were engaged in the act for reasons other than hunger.  

It must be mentioned that most Nigerians are either Muslims or Christians and both of these religions abhor looting. Aside from that, under Nigerian laws, taking something that does not belong to someone is a criminal offence which attracts punishment. We urge citizens to be mindful of how they respond to issues, so as not to injure others or even commit crime in the process. People must not allow situations to turn them into who they are not. In the current situation, caution must be applied in taking action. The act of looting is a manifestation of the general moral decadence in the society and we call on relevant bodies to embark on re-orientation of the youth on values.

Citizens could carry out peaceful protests to show their displeasure over issues going on or organise themselves into groups and channel their grievances appropriately.

We call on security operatives to go after the masterminds of those attacks and bring them to book. Also, going forward, anyone caught in the act must be arrested and made to face the law to serve as a deterrent to others.

That said, we call on the government to show sincerity of purpose in its dealings with citizens. Since May 29, 2023, when the president announced fuel subsidy removal, which was later followed by the floating of the naira, the standard of living has dropped, yet the government has yet to come up with something tangible as a way out of the quagmire. The president promised grains distribution and weeks after the announcement, Nigerians are yet to see the food items. The same goes for the palliatives that it claimed to have sent to states through the governors. Till date, many citizens have yet to benefit from the programme. On an improved minimum wage for workers, talks are still on, nine months after. All these do not portray the government as one that understands the urgency of the situation and is ready to tackle it head-on.

The government must change its strategy in approaching issues that affect the common man. The attitude of thinking that delay in taking action or silence will make the problem go away is wrong. Furthermore, the government must learn to communicate in very clear terms to Nigerians.

They should tell citizens their plans, and how they intend to go about them, and give timelines so that the people will feel that they are being carried along and also embrace the plan of the government, since the government claims they are aimed at making the country better.  The way of doing things must change.


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