April 19, 2024

Hoodlums Loot FCT Warehouses As NEMA Beef Up Security Nationwide

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By EDITOR

Following the looting of food warehouses in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Sunday, by suspected hoodlums, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has beefed up security at its warehouses nationwide.

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This was as soldiers foiled an attempt to raid a factory warehouse at the Idu Industrial District, Jabi, Abuja, on Sunday morning, arresting five of the attackers.

The factory was involved in the production, processing, and packaging of various agro-commodities including grains, rice, pulses, and edible oil.

Several incidents of attacks and looting of warehouses and food trucks have been reported in many cities against the backdrop of the hardship and the cost of living crisis in the country.

Last week, some youths stole food items from trucks stuck in traffic along Kaduna Road in the Suleja area of Niger State.

The attackers reportedly overwhelmed the truck drivers and looted scores of bags of rice before they were dispersed by soldiers.

On how the hoodlums got to know that there was a warehouse with food items in the vicinity, the source said, “The hoodlums looted the warehouse in 2020 during the COVID-19 period. During that attack, they vandalised everything in the warehouse, entered, and looted it completely because it had no security then.

“But now, it has its security. That time they took out hundreds of bags of rice from the warehouse. Now the factory deals with not just rice but a lot of agro-commodities including sesame seeds, pulses, edible oil, etc.

“We thank God that the security personnel were able to hold them down this morning. It was something else at the Idu Industrial area this morning. As they drove them away, I am very sure that they must have proceeded to another warehouse to loot because it was not like they were coming for us alone. As they moved, any warehouse they came across, there was a high possibility that they were going to loot it.”

Asked about the number of persons arrested by the soldiers, the source replied, “It should be around 20 of them because many of them fled when the backup from the DSS and the army arrived.”

FCTA Confirms Looting

The Agricultural and Rural Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration confirmed the looting of its warehouse in Dei-Dei.

The spokesperson for the ARD Secretariat, Zakari Aliyu, said the FCT Mandate Secretary, Agric Secretariat, Lawan Geidam, visited the warehouse, which was vandalised, adding that the looters also stole roof and windows.

He added that the FCT Minister of State, Dr. Mariya Mahmoud and Geidam, would again visit the facility on Monday (today) where more detailed information would be given regarding the incident.

Aliyu stated, “We visited the scene of the incident this morning. We visited with the secretary and some other officials of the secretariat. So, by tomorrow (today), the secretary, I think with the Minister of State, will pay another visit to that place.

“I am sure that a lot of information that will be useful to you, you will get it. If you can just be patient, tomorrow you will get all the information you need. If you go there, there is nothing there. Do you know that they removed the roof, and the windows, apart from the food items?’’

Speaking on the incident in a statement on Sunday, the NEMA spokesman, Manzo Ezekiel, sympathised with the owners of the affected warehouse, while clarifying reports that the looted warehouse did not belong to NEMA.

The statement explained that the NEMA Director-General, Mustapha Ahmed, had ordered that there should be improved security at its zonal offices and warehouses nationwide, “to forestall any security breach at NEMA facilities.”

The statement read, “The attention of the National Emergency Management Agency has been drawn to media reports on Sunday alleging that the agency’s warehouse was looted by some hoodlums in Abuja.

“This is to clarify that the looted warehouse does not belong to NEMA. However, the agency sympathises with the owners of the looted facility.”

In Osun State, the police said they had done all that needed to be done to fend off looters.

Commenting on the measures taken to ward off potential looters, the spokesperson for the state police command, Yemisi Opalola, said, “Osun State police command noted the (Abuja) incident and we are doing all we need to do to prevent the occurrence of such in our command here.

“Areas that needed more security are already receiving attention. Everyone should remain law-abiding and vigilant. We have done what we need to do to secure areas that need improved security.”

However, the police in Sokoto said they were ready to contain any criminal activity or breach of security in the state just as the command said it had deployed its operatives to protect emergency food stores in the state.

The spokesman for the command, Ahmed Rufai, stated, “If you can remember about two years during a protest, a similar thing happened in other states but we quickly mobilized our men to the facility here in the state to protect it.’’

“Similar steps will be taken this time around to prevent any form of breakdown of law and order in any of such facilities, including NEMA, SEMA, or any other agencies.

“’I believe with this development that happened in Abuja, the management of the command will definitely take action immediately,” he added.

“We won’t have an incident of warehouse looting in this state. The CP has directed all the DPOs to ensure such does not happen in their respective divisions. The men and officers are already in the town to forestall any breakdown of law and order in that regard,” the PPRO stated.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Kashim Shettima on Sunday urged Nigerians to apply discretion in protesting the current economic hardship country, asking them to do so “in a responsible and mature manner.”

Shettima, who said during the 29th pre-Ramadan lecture organised by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni in Lagos, said the reforms embarked upon by the Bola Tinubu administration were not meant to inflict hardship on Nigerians.

The lecture is themed, “Economic Reforms for Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for the Future.”

Represented by his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the Vice-President also warned Nigerians about “severe” economic challenges as they approach the holy month.

He appealed to citizens not to interpret the hardship as the government’s attempt to punish them.

The leadership of President Tinubu recognizes that this Ramadan will come with severe challenges for most Nigerians.

……Source: punchng

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