From Okwe Obi, Abuja
In the seven months since warehouses across the country were vandalised during the #EndSARS riots, with widespread looting of COVID-19 relief supplies, the Nigerian government is yet to identify and sanction state officials who supposedly hoarded the items.
During the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown of 2020, the federal government had released food items to states for public distribution, but the COVID-19 relief supplies, which included noodles, garri, groundnut oil, sugar, bags of rice and beans, were not shared.
While some state governments denied knowledge of the relief items in their possession, the federal government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, had maintained that state officials stashed away the items in the affected states.
‘Recently, the world has witnessed the unfortunate incidence of looting of palliatives and relief materials stashed away in warehouses in some states of the country during the #EndSARS protest,’ the minister said.
‘I, as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, want to categorically state that the palliatives donated to the Ministry by the Nigerian Customs Services, National Strategic Grain Reserve, and many good willing donors were handed to state officials for onward distribution to the poor and vulnerable in their states.’
On a related note, some owners of the vandalised warehouses have sued Kwara, Adamawa, Taraba and Plateau states, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous.
‘You know that most of the warehouses used to store those items were hired from business people. They have taken some state governments to court like Taraba, Kwara, Plateau and Adamawa for damages,’ the source said.