Sylvanus Viashima, Makurdi
Three weeks after the #EndSARS protest in Plateau State, the dark patches of the tragic incident, inspired by the alleged brutality of the Nigeria Police, has continued to hunt the imagination of the people of the state. In many areas of the metropolis and local councils, the pictures of vandalised public and private property are easily visible, the hurt inescapable.
A visit to Riyom Local Government in the northern part of the state would tell the story of the rage and rape of public wealth. In this council, the story of the hoodlums, who masqueraded as protesters, is mind-blowing. For many days, staff of the council, including the chairman, Mafeng Gwalison, remained stranded and displaced.
Eye witnesses told Daily Sun that no fewer than 60 offices were vandalised by the looters while several sensitive office documents, computers, air conditioners, televisions, windows, doors, toilet seats and furniture were carted away.
It was gathered that the hoodlums invaded the council’s secretariat on that fateful Sunday as the people were in church for the service. As worshipers prayed to God, the hoodlums were at their worst instinct, devilishly carting away every item that met their red-eyed sight.
After they were done with secretariat, they raged on to the staff quarters, where the National Security and the National Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and others were housed to complete their assignment. They removed everything including the ceilings and windows. The immigration office, where some sensitive materials belonging to the local government were kept, was also vandalised and the stored materials, among them computers and national identity cards, were carted away.
Like their ruinous counterparts elsewhere, they broke into a major warehouse in the local council area, but found nothing of worth to loot as the management of the council had shared all the COVID-19 palliative materials that were sent to them, a few days before the protest.
But they were not done. They moved into the store house and carted away the fertilizers and seedlings that were at the Home Economic Office, including chemicals that were used for the preservation of seedlings.
The Dagwom Rwai of Riyom, Samuel Jok, Chairman, Riyom Development Association, Dauda Dyek and former chairman of the local government, Emmanuel Jugul, condemned the looting and destruction of the secretariat by the hoodlums. The traditional issued an ultimatum to all those in possession of materials belonging to the local government to return them within one week or be arrested and handed over to the police.
Executive Secretary, Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, who visited the secretariat wept over the level of looting and destruction of property. He called on state and Federal Government to assist the affected council: “This is one of the most badly vandalised local governments in the country.
“For me, this is a very bad development and a setback to the state and to Nigeria. The level of destruction that I saw in the these three local governments, Riyom, Jos South and Jos North and the level of destruction I have seen in the house of the former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, is just bringing out tears in my eyes.
“This shows that the devil has taken over the minds of some of our young people. It is not our culture here in Plateau State to take part in the looting and destruction of property that do not belong to us. Plateau State and Nigeria have decent and respected people who are reputed for promoting the peace and unity of Nigeria, who must not allow this act of criminality to continue.
“I call on our people in Plateau State to go back to God and return to our decent culture. It is time for us to respect our elders. It is time for us not to take what does not belong to us. Despite the hunger that is glaring in the land, no one is expected to loot and cart away property that some individuals had laboured for over the years to put in place.”
Chairman of Riyyom LG, Mafeng Gwallson, said over 60 offices and sensitive files were destroyed and carted away. He said the secretariat was still recovering looted items with the help of the traditional rulers from various communities. He appealed to the hoodlums to return the sensitive documents that contained high profile information about the running of the local government:
“These materials do not belong to any individual, they are for our collective use and for us to come and destroy what belonged to us is very bad. We have about three trailer loads of items that we have been able to recover back.
“These include fertilizers, furniture, generator sets, doors, windows and so many other items that they carted away. We are appealing to them to return our sensitive materials, especially our office files. I don’t see why people will pick office files and move with them.”
Chairman, Jos South LG, Dachung Yohanna Choji, said the hoodlums carted away fertilizer and other valuable items: “It took the security personnel serious efforts to send away hundreds of hoodlums who were ready to vandalise and cart away valuable items in the council.”