Over 2,500 metric tonnes of covid-19 food were Saturday looted in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.
Findings reveal that mobs started mobilizing on Friday, October 23, 2020 to vandalize two warehouses in Bukuru and Old Airport road where the food supplies were kept.
The stored items delivered to the State by the Federal Government on 16th October, 2020 included 34 trailers load of maize, 35 trailers of sorghum, and four trailers of millet.
Early Saturday, crowds overpowered securities forces, forcing their way into the State Emergency Management Agency’s warehouse near Zang Commercial Secondary School, Bukuru, where the larger chunk of the supplies were.
The batch at JIB warehouse near Airforce base Jos was said to have been safely evacuated before crowds could access the store.
The items were about to be delivered when the EndSARS protests started, disrupting distribution plans, the Plateau State Commissioner of Information, Dan Manjang said.
“The Hon. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk was in Jos together with the Minister of Women Affairs Dame Paullen Tallen on the 16th October 2020 to deliver the items and had indeed brought in the personel of the Ministry to carry out the distribution in conjunction with State officials. However as they were preparing to begin the process, the #ENDSARS protests began which put the process on hold,” said Manjang in a press statement issued on Saturday.
It was therefore wrong to suggest that the government hoarded the supplies, the commissioner said.
In his words, “It would be wrong and mischievous for anyone to suggest that the State Government was hoarding food items meant for indigent citizens.
“All the palliatives purchased by the State and those donated by private individuals were distributed equitably by the State Palliative Committee headed by His Excellency Prof. Sonni Tyoden, Deputy Governor of Plateau State.”
Despite the clarification by Government, crowds still searched for more “covid-19 stores” in the city to break into.
The Plateau Agricultural Development Agency warehouse near the State Emergency Management Agency’s first looted in Bukuru was broken into.
Wheat seeds supposedly meant for distribution to farmers were carted away, it was learnt.
Another store belonging to the National Emergency Management Ahency near Police Staff College was broken into. Building materials, furnitures, grains and other supplies meant for victims of conflicts were looted.
Attempts to break into a warehouse within NASCO Nigeria Plc. premises were foiled by securities who fired into the air to disperse crowds.
The warehouse contained humanitarian relief supplies stored by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Officials of the Nigerian Red Cross Society issued a news release clarifying that the store did not contain covid-19 food as perceived but the youths persisted.
The crowd reportedly vandalized a loaded truck belonging to FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc parked within the NASCO premises, after forcefully gaining entrance through an emergency exit door, before they were dispersed by security forces.
To forestall further destructions, the State Governor, Simon Lalong restored earlier relaxed 24hr curfew in Jos and Bukuru metropolis.
The curfew took effect from 4pm on Saturday and is indefinite.