The Federal Government on Monday said it handed over COVID-19 palliatives from the nation’s reserve and other sources to the state governments for onward distribution to the citizens.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this in Abuja at the briefing of the taskforce.
- Why we didn’t stop palliative looters — Police officer
- Palliatives kept in anticipation of COVID-19 second wave – Govs
He was reacting to the mass looting of warehouses and other public and private assets by hoodlums across the nation.
Mustapha said the #EndSARS protests had unfortunately been hijacked by other tendencies that had inflicted great economic costs through arson, looting of warehouses, and invasion of private homes, shopping malls, jail breaks and wanton destruction under the disguise of the protests.
The SGF said: “Of particular concern to the PTF is the issue of palliatives found and looted from various warehouses around the country.
“The Federal Government Palliatives consisted largely of the 70MT of grains released from the Strategic Grain Reserves as well as rice secured from the Nigeria Customs Service.
“The shares for each state were handed over to the state governments for onward distribution to the citizens.
“The private sector coalition (CACOVID), that has been quite supportive of the Federal Government, worked with the states through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to determine the quantum of their intervention, which was intended to be effective and equitable. A number of indices were worked out for this purpose.”
He urged all Nigerians to remain law-abiding and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to restore normalcy to the country.
Mustapha said: “Humanity has been traumatized by COVID-19. Our nation is not experiencing a second wave but has been impacted negatively by the looting and arson.”
“Nigeria Risks Resurgence of COVID-19 Pandemic”
He warned that Nigeria risked a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic owing to the large gatherings of the #EndSARS protests and the attendant violence.
PTF National Coordinator Dr Sani Aliyu, said the Federal Government’s partnership with the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) was targeted at reaching 1.7 million families across Nigeria.
Aliyu said, “Some of our warehouses do not contain food items, they contain medical equipment, test kits and valuable items extremely important when it comes to the COVID response.
“Therefore, we’re pleading with all those that are currently in the process of planning (to loot the warehouses) to desist from doing so.
“It’s important that our assets are protected, that what the country has bought for the purpose of the COVID pandemic and what our donors have provided are used for the purpose they’re meant to do. And this purpose does not include looting of the items.”
“It is important to remember, as we go into the issue of palliatives, supplies, storage and distribution, that this process is integrated and also very complex.
“But we also understand that palliatives also need to be distributed with the greatest number of urgency so that millions of struggling Nigerians can receive the economic support.
“CACOVID has been a critical partner in our response to COVID-19. They’ve supported the country in the supplies of PPEs (personal protective equipments).
“They also provided technical support in the development and launch of the Nigerian International Travel Portal, which has made it possible for passengers to come into the country and depart on international flights.
“CACOVID has also been working with state governments and the FCT and the Nigeria Governors Forum, to procure, deliver and distribute palliatives to 1.7 million Nigerians, to the most vulnerable households across Nigeria.”
He said that the sheer scale of the food programme by CACOVID meant that the programme had to be delivered in a staggered and controlled manner.
Aliyu said that CACOVID worked with the states through the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to determine the number of households that will have these reliefs, to enable states and the FCT provide clean and secure warehousing for the food items.
He said that only the Lagos State warehouse is private property, while the rest of the warehouses have been state warehouses.
“Since the deliveries began with CACOVID and states government, official flagging and handover have taken place in 28 states and the FCT and these states have been distributing items in various places based on need.
“It’s also important to clarify that some of these states government have bought their own palliatives that they are distributing. Some states have received complete or near-complete deliveries of the food items allotted to them. As of today, several states have confirmed the completion of their distribution.
“It’s therefore quite concerning that we continue to see images of looting on the social media given all the work going on and the goodwill of the private sector towards supporting the COVID response,” Aliyu said
The Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood, said the looting of items by hoodlums could constitute a serious environmental hazard in Nigeria.
He said: “Some of the items looted, they think they can use them without knowing they cannot use them. It may constitute serious hazards.”