Warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives and other relief materials were stored across the country have been broken into in some states in the nation and items carted away by Nigerians mostly youths and women.
The looters or hoodlums as they are now tagged took advantage of the #EndSARS protests across the country to invade the warehouses.
While I don’t encourage such acts, the incidents in the past few days have, however, thrown up some tough questions for those in authorities to answer.
Several videos trending on the social media showed thousands of hungry and angry Nigerians mostly youths and women thronging
various warehouses across the federation to forcefully cart away palliatives which were hoarded.
Some of them died due to the ensuing stampede in the course of their looting while others were shot while doing so.
Do we blame these desperate Nigerians for the looting the food palliatives in these warehouses?
Why were the palliatives hoarded in the warehouses across many states of the federation when Nigerians needed them badly?
Some of the palliatives were handed over to some states as far back as about five months ago; why were there not distributed to vulnerable and less privileged Nigerians who needed them?
Items such as rice, beans, noodles and grains were purchased by the Coalition Against. COVID-19 the (CACOVID) and distributed to states for onward distribution to beneficiaries.
CACOVID which is a coalition of individuals, private and corporate organizations had pooled resources running into over N15 billion to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the masses.
For months, Nigerians were locked down due to measures put in place by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
It is worrisome to note at this point in time that the food items have been rotting away in warehouses across the country while poverty-stricken Nigerians wallow in hunger and starvation.
Food palliatives and relief materials were donated to states by CACOVID and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
In the wake of the looting of palliatives from some warehouses across some states and the verbal attacks on state governments. The 36 state governors have however come out to deny hoarding the palliatives.
Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, Head of NGF’s Media and Public Affairs, in a statement, said the forum pleaded with members of the public to desist from spreading rumours which further created panic and stampede as a lot of the information circulating in the social media needed to be fact-checked.
Bello-Barkindo said some of the properties stolen and vandalized included palliatives set aside for vulnerable members of society.
The NGF, which stated that no state had been involved in or had hoarded any palliatives, assured all contributors to the palliatives that prior to the looting of these warehouses, states had kept full accounts of all the items received and distributed.
I however beg to disagree with the position of the governors as it is common knowledge that these palliatives have long been handed over to them for distribution.
Curiously, it was in the wake of the looting of the items from warehouses that some states ordered that the materials be distributed to the people. This is quite unfortunate and sad.
While some of the governors claimed they didn’t distribute the items because they were waiting for directives from the Federal Government, the Federal Government on its part clarified that the items were handed over to states and that they didn’t need any permission before distributing them.
No doubt, somebody is not telling us the truth on the issue of the hoarded palliatives meant for Nigerians.
I, therefore, call on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) to urgently investigate issues surrounding the disbursements of COVID-19 palliatives to the people.
Moses Abiodun writes in from Lagos