The ongoing burgling of warehouses in search of palliatives has taken a more criminal dimension as suspected hoodlums yesterday broke into public offices, carting away ceiling fans, plasma televisions, desktop computers, laptops, mattresses, motorbikes, kits, food stuff and other valuable items.
The FCT National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) Camp, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) offices were among the offices vandalized in the process.
There are concerns that the hoodlums may start targeting residential areas after looting warehouses and offices.
The hoodlums invaded the NYSC Orientation Camp in Kubwa area of the FCT, taking corpers’ kits, computers, mattresses, utensils, electronics and other items.
According to eyewitness account, “the hoodlums carted away items such as cooking pots, ceiling fan, plasma TV, foodstuff, desktop computer, laptop.
They also attacked some residents of the camp as well as shops adjacent to the camp.
With efforts of some security operatives some of the items were however recovered from them, even as no fewer than 30 of the hoodlums were arrested by soldiers who handed them over to the police.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the hoodlums also looted computers, generators, textile materials in some shops directly opposite the NYSC entrance gate.
They were said to have blocked the road at about 9am, turning back motorists while the Kubwa village market was immediately shut by its managers to avoid invasion.
The FCT NYSC Coordinator, Hajiya Walida Isa, condemned the attack on the facility, describing it as “pure criminality”.
She said, “Last week they came here and we took them round showing them that even the warehouse where palliatives were stored by FCTA is empty as it was earlier distributed.
“They have looted the whole place, including all the NYSC kits for the prospective corps members, mattresses, computers and many more.”
She also disclosed that no fewer than thir- ty people have so far been arrested by the Po- lice in connection with the invasion.
Also, the NYSC management lamented yesterday that attacks on NYSC formations in search of palliatives, particularly the Orientation camps have become very worrisome.
It restated that there are no palliatives in any of the 37 NYSC camps nationwide.
In a statement made available to LEADERSHIP by the director, Press and Public Relations, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, NYSC management said it was “imperative to note that the National Youth Service Corps is a national institution saddled with the core mandate of promoting national unity and integration, as well as youth development and empowerment.
“The mandate does not include warehousing and distribution of palliatives”, it added.
The statement further noted that the director-General National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, made an earnest appeal for the cessation of further attacks on facilities of the Institution.
Also, one person was killed, while others sustained various degrees of injuries in Gwagwalada, Abuja, yesterday when the police dispersed some youths who attempted to invade Customs College Quarters in search of COVID-19 palliatives believed to have been kept in the area.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the youths had converged in the area as early as 8am in a bid to invade the quarters which houses a warehouse containing some COVID-19 palliatives.
However, some security operatives at the entrance into the quarters resisted the advances of the youths, as they shot into the air to disperse the youths and in the process one person died, while others sustained various degrees of injuries.
The shooting of one of the invaders, however, brought calm to the area, as other youths took to their heels for safety.
An eyewitness who is a resident of the area, Bello Muhammad, noted that some youths, who were involved in the foiled attempt to invade the Customs College Quarters, were those that were not opportune to participate in the looting of a warehouse in Gwagwalada.
Similarly, hoodlums yesterday looted a facility, Auto Pond, belonging to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), located at Gosa community along the Airport road in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
LEADERSHIP gathered that the Auto Pond facility is where several motorcycles seized by the directorate in parts of the FCT as well as burnt and damaged vehicles are kept.
The hoodlums who broke into the facility yesterday night carted away hundreds of the seized motorcycles without resistance from any security operative.
An eyewitness said it was a field day for the looters as they moved in droves throughout the night, carting away many motorcycles without hindrance.
“Some of the looters even came with tricycles and loaded the motorcycles into it and zoomed off. Some came with cars, while others came and rode the motorcycles themselves without any resistance,” an eyewitness told our reporter.
Our reporter was also informed that the- re were more than 10,000 seized motorcycles in the facility before the incident.
Also, the Adamawa/Taraba states com- mand of the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) said hoodlums have completely vandalized the office.
State Controller, Kamardeen Olumoh, said the action was pure criminality perpetrated by hoodlums.
Olumoh said his men have exercise a lot of caution and restraint in other to avert loss of lives whiles the attack on his command lasted.
He stated: “We acted with caution to pre- serve lives; otherwise you can imagine the number of lives that will be lost. Our attackers are pure criminals. #EndSARS protest has nothing to do with customs service.
“Before they looted our warehouse and headquarters, they had visited several warehouses within the town including headquarters of road safety.
“I can assure you some of the hoodlums are brought to book. Now there is virtually nothing in my office and the computer room has been ransacked and everything carted away. You can see documents are scattered all over the place. Some of the vehicles in the premises were driven away”.
He further noted that one of the hoo- dlums who attempted to infiltrate the command’s armoury was killed while ano- ther one was injured and was undergoing treatment.
“Unfortunately, there was a loss of life which occurred when the vandals tried to loot our armoury. We can lay down our lives to defend our armoury. One lost his life after breaking the armoury and another was injured and is in the hospital.
Of course no single ammunition or rifle was lost,” Olumoh said. He said they were trying to access the quantum of losses and damages on the head-quarters and will make such details public in
“We just finished security meeting with
the governor. We will do all we can to ensure that we protect what is left. And the culprits involved will think they will get away with their atrocities but the law will always have a way of catching up with them,” he said.
Security Operatives Disperse Looters At Kuje
Also, security operatives yesterday dis- persed some hoodlums who moved from street to street in Kuje area council in search of warehouses containing COVID-19 palliatives with the intention of looting food items.
The search which caused anxiety amongst residents started in the early hours of the morning, compelling residents to flee for safety.
The hoodlums matched round the streets in Kuje with sticks, blocking roads within the area, even as shop owners quickly locked up their shops to avoid looting.
However, the timely intervention of security operatives in Kuje town brought sanity and calm as they shot into the air to disperse them.
Three people had died in Monday’s stampede when hoodlums broke into the Gwagwalada COVID-19 warehouse and looted foodstuff and other valuables.
ICPC Goes After Sources Of Stashed Palliatives As CACOVID Calls For Calm
Meanwhile, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) is set to commence investigation of the sources of looted items across the country.
ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua,
said this is in response to increasing public demands on the Commission to investigate and uncover the rationale behind the storage of palliative materials meant for the suffering masses in warehouses across the country which were supposed to be distributed to the people.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission had earlier in the year taken proactive measures to prevent corruption in the administration of the COVID-19 funds by setting up a monitoring team that was charged with the responsibility of preventing possible abuse.
In addition, the commission drew up “Guidelines for PTF Management of CO- VID-19 Relief Funds” and issued an adviso- ry on the management of the COVID-19 relief funds.
The scope of the monitoring activities of ICPC did not cover CACOVID funds which were donated by individuals and private sec- tor organizations as palliatives.
The commission concentrated on only the federal government funds used to procure relief materials and other palliatives.
Part of the statement by the ICPC stated: “In view of the recent looting spree, ICPC will investigate the sources of goods looted from palliatives warehouses, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and private houses to unravel whether or not the properties looted were personally acquired, government procured, CACOVID donated, or are empowerment materials which are part of the constituency projects initiative of the federal government.
“ICPC will also scale up the monitoring of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) charged with the acquisition and distribution of COVID-19 palliative relief materials and make public its findings in due course.”
Meanwhile, members of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACO- VID) has called for calm amid the looting of COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution which were locked up in various state government warehouses across the country.
In a statement signed by Osita Nwasino- bi on behalf of the coalition, CACOVID said it was deeply concerned about the recent events as it urged those involved in the destruction of public and private property to immediately desist from such raids in order to allow the states to proceed with peaceful and fair distribution of these palliatives to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society.
It said, “Over the past few months, the private sector, through CACOVID, has been working with all state governors, the FCT minister and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, to procure, deliver and distribute these food relief items to almost two million most vulnerable families (over 10 million Nigerians) across the 774 local government areas of the country, as part of the private sector’ssupport to the na- tional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the Iockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner, with states classified in three timed phases, to enable or- derly delivery to the needy.
“At the time CACOVID embarked on the palliatives effort in April 2020, we decided to procure the food directly from the manufacturers, to avoid a distortion of prices in the market.
The food package was designed such that each of the nearly two million vulnerable families received: a 10kg bag of rice, a 5kg bag of garri/maize flour/semolina, one carton of pasta, two cartons of noodles, 5kg of sugar and 1kg of salt.
“Unfortunately, the very large size of the order, and the production cycle required to meet the demand, caused delays in delivering the food items to the states in an expeditious manner; hence the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the state governors.
Mismanagement By Past Administrations Responsible For Current Unrest – Kogi Gov
Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, yesterday blamed the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the maladministration of past administrations in the country as the root causes of the unrest in the country, warning that decisive steps must be taken to restore normalcy.
The governor stated this in Lokoja, yesterday when he appeared on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, saying the CO- VID-19 pandemic birthed the current unrest in the country.
He said, “I warned then that the pandemic was a creation to promote poverty, stiffle our national growth and breed hunger.
They want us to be locked down in hunger. They were not happy that we were getting closer to sufficiency in food production. And we bought the unfortunate Market.
“What we are seeing today is the product of hunger. People are hungry and angry. We must find quick solution to that”.
On the attacks on warehouses, the governor said it wasn’t the fault of the governors, disclosing that some of the palliatives came late and some of them were bad.
“Some of the food items came late and we even raised eyebrow over the supplies.
You are bringing rice for me when I have built the second largest Rice Mill in Northern Nigeria in my state. What is the economic sense in it? Why didn’t they allow us to buy these products in our respective states and stimulate our local economy? Some people really benefitted from the unfortunate situation,” he said.
He said the palliatives brought by the federal government and those provided by the state government had been distributed across the state, insisting that his administration had been distributing relief materials to the poor and victims of flood since 2016.
Uzodinma Vows To Fish Out Sponsors In Imo
Jolted by the colossal loss of lives and properties in the state associated with the nationwide END SARS Protest, Imo state governor Hope Uzodinma has vowed to fish out the sponsors of the bloody operation.
The governor who attributed the mayhem unleashed on the state to the senseless desperation of some disgruntled politicians to regain power in the state said that never again would few desperate, power hungry elements take the state for a ride.
Speaking at a one day crucial meeting with major stakeholders in the state which cut across political and religious divides, Uzodinma noted that enemies of the state are not limited to those bent on running a dynasty in the state, adding that some are intent on erecting self empires.
He said, “Our perilous situation in Imo is worrisome but when were wrongly declared loser in the 2019 election, we did not protest because we did not want to destroy our state but only adopted litigation. Sadly enough, hell was let loose when the illegal occupants were chased away and they are now desperate to come back to power.
Sheath Your Swords, Embrace Dialogue, FG Tells Youths
The federal government yesterday ap- pealed to protesting youths in Cross River Sta- te to sheathe their swords and embrace peace in the interest of the state and the nation.
Minister of State for Power, Godwin Jeddy-Agba, made the appeal while fielding questions from Jpournalistsin Calabar shortly after making visitation to infrastructure that were damaged by protesting youths during the rampage by hoodlums.
The minister who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event said alt- hough youths have right to express their grievances, all the youths needed to have done was to give the president time to attend to their needs, stressing that unfortunately, the government was not given time to respond to their needs.
He called on the youths to sheath their swords and give the government time to re- spond to their need one after the other rather than resorting to destruction of public property which goes a long way to increase the burden on governance.
Some of the places visited by the presiden- tial team include the Federal Psychiatric Hos- pital, Nigerian Television Authority, West Af- rican Examinations Council’s office and the Cross River Basin Development Authority.
Be Patient With Govt, Etsu Nupe Ur- ges Youths
The Etsu Nupe and chairman, Niger Sta- te Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Yaha- ya Abubakar, yesterday urged youths in the country to be patient with the government as their demands were being looked into by the government.
The Etsu Nupe who spoke at his Wadata Palace, Bida, lamented that although the pro- test started peacefully, it was hijacked by peop- le with ulterior motives.
He said it was seemingly understandable that the protesters had good intentions, but regretted that, the protests were later hijacked “by the enemies of peace, unity and socioeco- nomic progress of Nigeria”.
Abubakar further wondered why the protests turned violent and destructive, resulting in the loss of innocent lives, as well as the destruction of both private and public properties.
The Etsu Nupe noted that the youths were the future leaders of the country, and should not allow themselves to be used by some unpatriotic and disgruntled elements to cause a breach of the peace of the country.
NPAN Pays Solidarity Visit To Nation Newspapers, TVC
Meanwhile, members of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the professional body responsible for the regulation of journalism in Nigeria yesterday visited the Nation Newspapers and Televisi- on Continental (TVC) which were razed by hoodlums that hijacked the #EndSARS pro- test in Lagos State.
The NPAN delegation that paid solidarity to the two media organizations was led by chairman and Editor -in- Chief, Thisday Newspapers and Arise TV, Prince Nduka Obaigbena.
Other prominent media icons in the delegation included the Publisher of Vanguard, Sam Amuka; Publisher of Guardian Newspaper, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru; Group Managing Director of LEADERSHIP News- papers, Muazu Elazeh, who represented the chairman of LEADERSHIP Group Limited, Sam Nda Isaiah; Ademola Oladosu of Daily Trust; former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba; General Secretary, NPAN, Comfort Obi; GM, The NewTelegraph, Mr Ayo Aminu, among others.
Speaking after assessing the extent of destruction and havoc wreaked by the hoo- dlums, the publisher of Thisday Newspaper, Prince Obaigbena described the scenario as a total devastation.
He said, ‘’But like they say you can kill people but you can’t kill idea , you can break down buildings but you can’t kill ideas and we are here to stand for free speech, we are here to stand for freedom of expression for everybody and we (media) should not be the target , however we shall overcome.’’
On whether he wants special protection for the media, Nduka said the demand is to have law, order and security for everybody.
He noted: “I don’t want to ask for anything specially for the media if we all have law and order. If all have security then everyone has security and we would not treat ourselves special but there should be law and order; they should follow the rule of law and we should follow the constitution; we should have free speech; we should give people right to protest without hindrance and take their ideas and build a better society; we should not allow hoodlums rule or gangs rule or the guns to rule.
“We are between the devil and hard place. We were witnesses to the shootings, so we could not have published unverifiable materials. We will engage the NBC and show them that we a stake in this country and we will always publish the truth.’’
While showing appreciation for the visit, the Chief Executive Officer of TVC, Mr Andrew Hanlon, said the phase was very im- portant to TVC communications and to all its staff after what happened to the establishment last week after the office went up in flames.
He said, ‘’Seeing our business going up in a flames in an inferno in this building which is now a shell was very upsetting time for everybody that works in this company. It is very traumatic but we are grateful that nobody was seriously injured and nobody died unlike others who have died in the protest and the riot that has taken place right across the federation.
Our heart and sympathy goes out to those people and their families as well. We all think about them and they were upper- most in our mind.
‘ ’ We a r e g r a t e f u l b e c a u s e t h e s t a t i o n i s f u lly back. For us here at TVC we are just grateful that we have the resources to be able to continue our business on all our television and radio services are back on the air such as TVC news, TVC entertainment channel, MAX fm, and we are very grateful to all our staff for coming together and getting us back on the air our viewers and listeners knows we are back on air but the real challenge is to rebuild what we had here and that is all our focus and attention is going to be for now on and we believe we are going to come back bigger and stronger than we were before we know we have got big job to do with all this things in place we can now look into the brighter future and hopefully a brigh- ter future for Nigeria.”
Destruction In Lagos Too Much For State To Bear, Says South West Senate Caucus
Meanwhile, lawmakers representing all the states in South West in the Senate yesterday visited Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to commiserate with delegation of the South West cau- cus in the Senate led by Senator Ajayi Borof- fice visited the governor at the State House in Marina.
Senator Boroffice, who represents Ondo North, described the destruction as “orchestrated tragedy” that must be tho- roughly investigated.
He wondered why the youth protest was prolonged and allowed to degenerate to violence when the federal government had agreed to the five-point demands of the protesters.
The lawmaker expressed worry that many youths working in the businesses that were destroyed would be rendered jo- bless, adding that it would take time for the owners of the businesses to recover, giving the extent of losses.
He said, “Members of the Southwest cau- cus in the Senate are here to console you over the demonic violence unleashed on Lagos. Government and private individuals suffered incalculable loss in the unfortunate destruction that trailed the EndSARS protest.”
By Our Correspondents