By Tanko Mohammed
The protests against police brutality has subsided, giving way to vandalism and looting of public and private properties, including the breaking into warehouses to steal Covid-19 palliatives.
Some of the items found in the warehouses include noodles, cassava flour, and rice, many of which had spoilt due to poor and prolonged storage.
Most of the materials were donated by the federal government, private sector and donor organisations, but were not distributed by those vested with the authorities to do so.
There had been complaints and outcry by several groups that monies and foods provided as COVID-19 palliatives by the federal government and the private sector had been diverted.
The discovery of the warehouses across the country has forced Mrs Zahra Buhari-Indimi, daughter of the President Muhammadu Buhari, to exonerate her father as the problem of Nigeria.
Buhari-Indimi, said the situation is evidence that her father is not Nigeria’s problem because the President had released money to provide succour for the poor but politicians and others stole the products and money.
Zahra said on October 25, 2020: “Now that people confirmed that Buhari distributed enough palliatives nationwide, it is clear Buhari is not our problem.”
A human rights organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives in warehouses in several states.
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has also blasted protesters for burning major media houses in Lagos, just as the strongman of Nigerian politics, Mr Bola Tinubu, also flayed the violence.
As the police reports that arrest of more than 1,200 hoodlums across the country, the President of NGE, Mr Mustapha Isa, has described the attacks on some journalists and media houses by the hoodlums as unwarranted and condemnable.
NGE noted that the Nigerian media contributed immensely to the current democracy being enjoyed in Nigeria and should therefore operate in an atmosphere of unfettered access to information and peace.
The Guild recalls that journalists had engaged in reporting all sides since the #EndSARS protests erupted.
This is against the background of their Constitutional duty of informing the public of developments in the country, and they discharged such responsibilities even at the risk of their lives.
“Therefore, the call for adequate security for media houses has become imperative because of Tuesday’s attacks on Television Continental (TVC), The Nation Newspapers, Lagos Television and Traffic Radio. Other media houses such as Channels TV and Galaxy TV had to go off air temporarily as a precautionary measure.’’
“The media shouldn’t be made to operate in an insecure atmosphere’’ and it therefore called on the government to provide adequate security for media houses to enable them perform their Constitutional role of informing the public and holding leaders accountable to the people.
The government, it said, should also consider providing compensation to the affected media houses to enable them bounce back and keep their employees at work.
Meanwhile, Mr Bola Tinubu, ex-governor of Lagos state and national leader of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has also decried the burning of the TV continental and Nations newspapers, his media houses in Lagos.
He condemned the use of brute force against peaceful protesters which he said was part of democratic system.
“I heavily grieve for those who have lost their lives or been injured during the period of these protests. My deepest sympathies go to their families and loved ones for none should have been made to pay such a dear price.’’
He denied allegations that he ordered the reported deployment of soldiers against peaceful protesters that took place at Lekki on 20 October 2020.
“This allegation is a complete and terrible lie’’ and also denied ownership of the tollgate.
“As a political figure, I am accustomed to people attributing to me all manner of indiscretions of which I have no knowledge and in which I played no role. I have usually ignored such falsities as the cost of being in the public eye.’’
Meanwhile, Lagos which is the epicentre of the protests, has reported that it would cost the cost more than $3.3 billion to rebuild the state, as a result of the massive destruction of public properties.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said hoodlums and protesters destroyed businesses, government and private properties, including 89 new luxury new buses each costing $200,000.
President Buhari has once again assured the nation that victims of the #EndSARS protests would get justice and that those who lost loved ones and properties in the mayhem would also be served justice.
He urged Nigerians to maintain peace and order to avoid the dire consequences of vandalism on economy.
“Looting and vandalism will hurt trade and investment growth in our country – both large and small industries, as well as our hardworking people in the informal sectors of the economy,” the President said.
The 36 governors on the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have explained that the looted palliatives were not hoarded but kept for vulnerable Nigerians.
In a statement issued on Monday, October 26, 2020, they pleaded with the public to desist from spreading rumours in order not to further create panic and stampede
The statement signed by the NGF’s Head, Media, and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, said: “The erroneous impression in the public domain that these palliatives were hoarded is not just inaccurate, entirely erroneous and untrue but also mischievous, to say the least.’’
“For the avoidance of doubt, some of the palliatives had the CACOVID stamp embossed on them, meaning that their source is unambiguous,’’ they said.