Tony Osauzo, Benin, Fred Itua, Abuja, Gyang Bere, Jos, Paul Osuyi, Asaba, Judex OKoro, Calabar, Noah Ebije, Kaduna, Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Hoodlums across the country yesterday went on a looting spree, breaking into various warehouses believed to be storing COVID-19 palliatives and carted away stormed items.
The situation turned tragic in Benin City when an unidentified man reportedly died after looting government medical store at Uselu.
The deceased was said to have attempted to exit through the roof when he lost his balance and fell headlong, hitting his head on the hard concrete slab.
A lady was also seen in a video recording of the looted warehouse, bleeding profusely, as she was being carried by two men.
The youths who had earlier in the morning, been prevented by military personnel from carrying out the act, succeeded in breaking into the warehouse.
The Edo State government explained that the looted government warehouse City, storing palliatives materials and medical supplies, served as a strategic reserve to mitigate eventualities in the state.
In a statement, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said upon receipt of relief materials, there had been an ongoing process of distribution for the past seven months to the vulnerable and poor population to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the state.
The statement said the vandalised warehouse stored some strategic medical assets, listing the items looted to include vaccines, high-end equipment and other supplies.
Shortly after the state government’s statement, angry youths burgled another warehouse on downtown Sapele Road also in Benin City.
A video of the latest incident released on the social media space, shows residents of the state capital carting away items similar to the ones looted at the Medical Store Road warehouse.
The Sapele warehouse is located in an uncompleted building.
In the 17-seconds video of the looting, the angry youths were heard denouncing the wicked nature of government by keeping items meant to be distributed to the people.
Another warehouse in an uncompleted building on Golf Course Road, G.R.A., was broken into and items believed to be COVID-19 pandemic palliative looted.
The looting spree was also extended to private warehouses in Benin as people were spotted at private facility in Eribo Estate area of Textile Mills Road in Egor Local Government Area of the state.
In Abuja, policemen attached to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command, foiled an attempt by some hoodlums masquerading as protesters, to break into a warehouse at the Arts and Culture building in Area 10, Garki.
The youths, numbering over 40, invaded the area on Saturday morning and made attempts to gain entry into the building to evacuate palliatives kept in the warehouse by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
However, some policemen were on ground to disperse them with gunshots and teargas canisters.
It was gathered that the said warehouse contains only bottled water as other palliatives had since been distributed or moved to other locations.
Although no attempt has been made to break into the warehouse in Kubwa, checks revealed that the building is currently empty as the foodstuff and other materials had earlier been distributed.
Only one warehouse within the territory contains corn and millet which are to be distributed to flood victims in the territory.
An official of the FCT Administration who did not want his name mentioned, said if not for the unorganised behaviour of the youths, it was earlier agreed that the warehouses would be opened for them to inspect “and know that the FCTA has nothing to hide.”
Meanwhile, FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has assured residents of the territory that palliative items in various stores across the territory are safe, and security agents are being deployed to man strategic places in the territory.
The minister also stated that the FCT Administration had in the past few months distributed all items procured and also distributed donated items to the area councils, community associations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and professional bodies/associations, stressing that the administration had continued to receive donations that were distributed on a continuous basis, very transparently.
There was pandemonium in Jos as suspected hoodlums broke into major warehouses housing COVID-19 palliatives meant for indigents persons and carted away some materials.
The youths stormed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) warehouse at Tean in Bukuru and carted away items that were delivered to the state.
It was gathered that the palliatives were delivered by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk and the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Paullen Tallen when they visited Jos on the 16 October, 2020.
The hoodlums broke into the warehouse allowing others to take advantage of the situation.
The hoodlums then hit National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), North Central office, Jos and vandalised the facility and carried off food items and computers.
It was gathered that the looted materials at the NEMA office were not palliatives but contingencies kept for disaster management.
Public Relations Officer of NEMA, North Central, Audu Yohanna, who was in the office narrowly escaped from the hoodlums.
The suspected hoodlums who had a free day, moved to the Federal Incubator Centre in Bukuru and carted fertiliser and farming implement.
Another warehouse where Plateau State government kept palliatives received from Dangote Group was also broken into.
But the state government had shared the palliatives few weeks ago to the 17 local government areas, each received two trailer loads.
The few materials that were discovered were also looted by the youths.
It was learned that the COVID-19 committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, had distributed most of the palliatives received by government to the beneficiaries.
Plateau State government in a press state signed by Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Dan Manjang said the palliatives looted by the youths were not hoarded by government.
He said: “Following the vandalisation and looting of palliatives from some warehouses in Jos and Bukuru on 24th October 2020, it has become expedient for the Plateau State government to condemn the action and further make some clarifications about the items to clear the erroneous impression that they were being hoarded.
Also in Asaba, suspected hoodlums on Saturday attempted to break into the multi-billion naira Delta State Event Centre in Asaba in search of COVID-19 palliatives.
But the hoodlums were repelled by security agents.
Following the failed attempt, heavily- armed security men are manning all the strategic junctions, roundabouts and streets in the capital city.
The hoodlums had thought that palliatives donated by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CA-COVID) were stored at the magnificent event venue.
Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, in a video at the Event Center, said the state had fully distributed the palliatives as at mid-September.
In Calabar, our correspondent reports that COVID-19 palliative warehouse located within the premises of the Cross River State Property Investment Limited (CROSPIL) at State Housing Estate was looted.
The protesters broke into the palace and discovered a large quantity of food stuff and called their friends and relatives to participate in the looting.
After the exercise, the angry youths also got information about State Emergency Management Agency, (SEMA), warehouse located on Barracks Road, moved to the facility and attacked it.
The youths carted away thousands of bags of food items meant for disaster victims and later set it ablaze.
And in continuation of the looting spree, the hoodlums moved to another warehouse at Ministry of Works in Ekorinum and carted away another large quantity of items and again set the palace ablaze.
Some of the protesters were overheard complaining that instead of sharing the palliatives, the government decided to store it in order to play politics while the people were hungry.
At the three warehouses, items worth hundreds of millions of naira were carted away including noodles, rice, beans, water, garlic, condiments, cooking oil and salt.
A witness and a resident of State Housing Estate, Eyo Eyo Edet, said they were shocked to see youths running into the warehouse premises as if a fight had broken out.
Meanwhile, hundreds of youths and some Kaduna residents trooped on Saturday also looted some warehouses believed to be housing palliatives for COVID-19 which were not distributed to the people.
Some of the items said to have been discovered in the warehouses included bags of rice, sugar, noodles, spaghetti, etc.
The items, it was learnt, were looted without any harassment from security agencies.
Our reporter gathered that at about 4.pm, a warehouse was discovered on Gwari Avenue, Barnawa area of Kaduna city by youths who were believed to protesters of ENDSARS campaign.
Eyewitnesses said the youths re-grouped immediately and headed for Queen Amina College along Kachia road where another palliative warehouse was discovered.
Several motorists as well as commercial motorcycle riders had a field day looting assorted food stuff.
As at the time of filing this report, it was also gathered that the crowd was heading for the premises of Kaduna State Transport Authority (KSTA) along PAN Drive where a warehouse is suspected to be located.
It was the same story in Ado Ekiti where hoodlums invaded the Federal Government silos, the Agric Development Programme warehouse, and the store house of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in Ado-Ekiti, searching for COVID-19 palliatives. This happened even when Ekiti State government on Friday evening clarified that there were no COVID-19 palliatives left in its custody.
The items carted away by the hoodlums were said to be poisonous which they mistook for COVID-19 palliatives
Earlier, the Commissioner for Information, Akinbowale Omole, had on Friday evening raised the alarm over alleged plan by some hoodlums to attack some warehouses in the state under the guise of looking for COVID-19 palliatives in Ekiti State.