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#EndSARS Bruises: Booting for Looting

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By Eddy Odivwri

During the week, most Radio stations in Lagos ran a debate on the morality of the lootings that took place in the last one week. The question was whether those who broke into several warehouses across the country to cart away stored-up palliatives committed any offence.

Expectedly, opinions were sharply divided. While many explained that the looters acted rightly by “possessing their possessions”, others argued that what the looters did was pure crime, as long as they broke into warehouses without the permission or approval of the custodians or keepers of the warehouse.

But those who justified the looting asked why the food items were hoarded since April/May by those who were meant to distribute them to the people. So the question that kept ringing out is why did the government not share or distribute the palliatives during the lockdown?

‘For a fact some of the food items in some warehouses were already expired or going bad.

Nigerians were shocked at the level of deprivation that the government across board had inflicted on the Nigerians people. Its recalled that some of these palliatives were donated by private corporate organisations like CACOVID and co. So it is shocking to see those same items hidden away in several warehouses in the country.

Many contended that it amounted to wickedness on part of the government to have stored up the food items while hunger and lack was wreaking havoc among the people during the fierce bite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the governors, smarting from the embarrassment the discovery caused them, explained lousily, that the said food-items were being stored to be given to the masses when the second phase of the Corona virus infection comes.

It was a vexatious excuse. Why hide away what can save me today? And plan to give it to me tomorrow, whereas I need today to be able to access tomorrow. You keep palliatives for the future. What if the prospective beneficiary does not survive today? It is a great folly, if not executive deception.

With the breakage and looting of several warehouses in Lagos, Kwara, Osun, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Edo, Adamawa, Jigawa etc., it is certain that most governments at sub-national level are very detached from the pains and desires of the people.

However, if the looting had ended with the raid of the warehouses for palliatives, perhaps the argument could be strongly made that they were acts necessitated by hunger and the physiological need to satisfy the pangs of hunger.

But how do we explain the looting of private homes of individuals? How do we explain the looting of tractors (in Adamawa), looting of school buses and computers in Jigawa, pulling out of ‘Jalingo’ signpost, or the removal of Ekiti House of Assembly signpost.

Yes, the anger triggered by the Lekki shooting had resulted in some crass damages like the destruction and burning of NPA Building, BRT Terminal at Oyingbo, Ikotun etc, as well as the burning of TVC The Nation newspaper.

If the burning of TVC and The Nation Newspapers is based on the suspicion that the owner of the two media houses, Senator Bola Tinubu was behind the invitation of the Nigerian Army to the Lekki shooting saga, (even though the truth about it is now coming clearer), so what explains the burning down of the Igbosere High Court and almost all the documents thereof?

The fact that crass criminals hijacked the protests is no longer in doubt. The raw brigandage that followed and still reverberating in some states bespeaks of the danger in the land. It all indicates that there are so many criminals out there in town that are only being contained and reined in by the law enforcement agencies.

From all indications, the legitimate protest served as the booting process for the unchecked looting that eventually took place. And once the chance came, criminals in their thousands, across the country, swooped on society, raiding and wrecking everything on their way.

The spate of lootings have thrown up a number of issues.

One of which is the degree of hunger in the land. The fact that the people were first very excited in ‘discovering’ many warehouses containing food items which were supposed to serve as palliatives, means that the issue of feeding is still key among the people.

The volume of youths who trooped (and still trooping) out in each city/state to raid and loot speaks to the huge number of unemployed youths in the country.

Yes, unemployment is high. Hosting such raw energy and sitting idle all year long, the idle youths are like a keg of gunpowder, waiting to explode with the slightest spark.

That spark was the Lekki killings.

Another fall out of the #EndSARS protest is the widening gulf between government and the governed. The character of the aftermath of the crisis has further shown that beyond the core issue of trust, there is some hatred of government by the people.

It is not for nothing. The government has several times in the past, failed the credibility test among the people. The fierceness and depth of the damage to government property and assets is an indication of the deep-seated anger and hatred against government.

Bad and despicable as it is, the attack on private properties and investments may be interpreted in some quarters as the rise of the “oppressed” against those perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be their oppressors.

In Ibadan, the looters swooped on the home of Senator Teslim Folarin and raided the home, carting away over 300 motor-cycles that were supposed to be distributed to the youths of his constituents, as constituency project.

In Jos, the hoodlums had also raided a warehouse, some breaking into the warehouse from the roof. Such was the desperation. They went on to sweep clean the private home of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, carting away practically everything in the house including electronics etc.

In Calabar, the hoodlums raided the homes of Senator Gershom Bassey and former Senate Leader, Senator Ndoma Egba, and later set them ablaze.
Across board, the looting of private homes of those perceived as “Big men” was common.

The manner of the looting sometimes reflects the criminal tendencies in the people, and not necessarily a quest to quench hunger. For instance, those who raided the NYSC camp in Abuja, carting away mattresses and uniforms meant for corps members, are not looking for what to eat. Same way, those who wanted to swoop on the Customs armoury in Adamawa, leading to the death of one looter, were certainly not doing so because of hunger. They are just criminals. And sadly, there were some parents who went with their children on those looting expeditions. It speaks to how social morals have collapsed in the country.
In kaduna, the hoodlums had raided a warehouse containing treated seedlings meant to be distributed to farmers for the next planting season. It had to take NAFDAC announcing that the seedlings were not fit for consumption having been treated with chemicals.

It is instructive that in all the cases of these mindless lootings, the police seemed to have gone on long holidays. It was only few days ago, after the directive of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, that the Police have started arresting the situation.

In Lagos over alleged 520 hoodlums have been arrested. In Lagos, six policemen were killed, over, 22 police stations were burnt, 37 police vehicles were burnt, 80 BRT buses were burnt, innumerable private cars and vehicles were either burnt, raided or destroyed.

Shops and major Departmental stores in Suru-Lere area of Lagos were raided by fierce hoodlums, whom the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has said ,”are not Suru-Lere children”. So, Mr Speaker, where did those hoodlums come from? Is the Speaker saying or implying that “Suru-Lere children” are so disciplined and holy that they cannot engage in looting?
By last Tuesday, another set of hoodlums continued the attacks on Mile 12 market, raiding and robbing traders. Trucks carrying food stuffs were burnt.

Chaos and pandemonium had seized various neighbourhoods. Great was the damage.
The Lagos State government has estimated the cost of rebuilding the state at N1 trillion.

It is interesting to hear that the 72-hour deadline given by Osun State governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, for hoodlums to return all the items they looted, has started yielding fruits as many hoodlums have started returning what they stole.

In Lagos, the traditionalists were relieved when they heard that the Staff of office of the Oba of Lagos which was also carted away when the palace was raided, has been returned.

The consequences of these lootings and destruction are far too grave for the people.

Yet, they will be borne by the people—Looters and non-looters alike.

The first noticeable consequence is the inflation that the chaos has triggered.

Cost of food items especially, have jumped high, ostensibly because of the shortage of food stuff supply, what with all the curfews announced by several state governments across board. The people are already groaning.

Transportation will become more difficult in densely-populated cities like Lagos, where over 80 BRT buses have been burnt.

Ironically, it is the ordinary citizens who will bear the brunt of the arising hardship. Primero, the operators of the Blue BRT buses in Lagos have already announced the suspension of their service.

Already traffic flow has been chaotic since the crisis also chased away the LASTMA officials out of the roads.

Many filling stations have long closed their stations with the few selling, besieged by long queues of motorists.

On a larger scale, the damage to the economy is huge. Not only has the destruction caused the loss of jobs—imagine the drivers and other ancillary staff of those burnt 80 BRT buses, the owners of the many shops that were looted and destroyed. How would they recover their individual economies?

Such chaos and social upheavals are bound to scare local and foreign investors.

Which investor would knowingly plough huge sums of investment into an unstable economy and society?

One other fallout of the crisis is the avalanche of Fake News. It was just everywhere, no thanks to the abuse of the Social Media. Old and photo-shopped video clips were being circulated.

At the onset of the crisis, they had claimed Bola Tinubu had fled to France, supporting the claim with an old video of a Tinubu walking very fast to catch a flight. That his son, Seyi had been flown in a private jet to London. A fake tweet was also circulated where Tinubu was said to be begging the mob not to kill his son as he was not the one who invited the military to Lekki tollgate.

There was another video that claimed the soldiers were arming Fulani youths in Badagry preparatory to attacking southerners. It was an old video of surrendered arms during the amnesty offer to Niger Delta youths. The fake news purveyors changed the narrative.

But the worst of them all was in claiming that Prof Wole Soyinka had ordered that all Igbos should leave Yoruba Land.

Clearly, there was nothing farther from the truth. It was all meant by the IPOB campaigners and other enemies of state to cause divisive and huge tribal disaffection that could trigger ethnic unrest. Thankfully, the plot failed.

Perhaps one of the gravest fallouts of the crises is the credibility concern for Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu over the invitation of the soldiers who eventually shot and killed some protesters.

On his Wednesday, October 21 broadcast, Gov Sanwo-Olu had given the impression that he was not aware of how the military invaded the Lekki tollgate. He said the authority that brought the soldiers to the tollgate was clearly beyond him.

He had claimed that he had complained about how the military invaded the protest ground at Lekki tollgate. As he put it: “for clarity, it is imperative to explain that no sitting governor controls the rules of engagement of the military. I have nonetheless ordered an investigation into the rules of engagement adopted by the men of the Nigerian army that were deployed to the Lekki tollgate last night…”

The above gives the impression that the governor was not aware of how the soldiers got into the arena.

But by last Tuesday, the Nigerian Army had issued a statement that they were invited to the scene by Gov Sanwo-Olu to maintain civil order. One of his media aides had gone ahead to claim that the governor had never denied inviting the soldiers. That was not the narrative in the public domain. If the governor was indeed the one who invited the soldiers, why was all the shenanigans on the issue of not knowing the “rules of engagement” in his broadcast? Didn’t the governor claim that he had called on Mr President twice when he heard that soldiers were at the tollgate, but that the President was not available for talks, thus giving the impression that he was helpless? If he had invited the soldiers, so why was he calling on the President? Why was the governor feigning ignorance about the coming of the soldiers? He claimed, in an ARISE TV interview that it was his wife and cabinet members that told him that soldiers were shooting at the protest venue. If he had knowingly invited soldiers, why was he surprised they were shooting? No wonder he was reluctant to admit that there were fatalities. He had earlier claimed there were no fatalities. Four hours after his broadcast, he tweeted to admit one person died. A day after, he admitted that another person had died from bullet wounds. Yet soldiers did not shoot at protesters!.

He had admitted that many were injured and some had undergone surgery. Yet, they claim solider did not shoot at unarmed protesters. That they shot into the sky. So those who were killed or injured were living in the skies? It is things like this that breach the trust quotient between leaders and the led. Now we understand why his mother’s house in Suru-Lere was also burnt in the ensuing rage.

This has surely dented the credibility of Mr Governor, and it will be a cross he’d have to carry for a long time to come. I think we should not bother asking who ordered the soldiers to shoot Soldiers are not policemen. When you invite armed soldiers to a place , what other “shooting instruction” would they need?
But hey, why did it take the military almost a week to admit that they were the ones who shot protesters at Lekki tollgate?

Were the soldiers merely gaslighting Nigerians?

Didn’t the soldiers claim that the story about their shooting protesters at the tollgate was fake? Didn’t they claim they were not behind the shootings? How can such a major national institution like the Nigerian Army engage in petty lies with all the videographic evidences that belie their claims?

Needless to say it was the shooting and killings that triggered the spate of attacks and lootings that has seized the country. If the soldiers did not shoot and kill protesters, the protests would have most likely ended peacefully.

Already sitting, is the judicial panel of enquiry into the shooting and killings at the tollgate. Nigerians look forward to what they will report back, provided its findings are not doctored. I say this because of the stories that participants have been asked to sign oaths of secrecy at the panel. Evil breeds in secrecy. It is ironical that a panel that is supposed to unravel all that were foggy in the crisis is already taking oath of secrecy. How can those sworn to secrecy be willing to reveal dirty dealings?

The post #EndSARS Bruises: Booting for Looting appeared first on THISDAYLIVE.

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COVID-19: Police Arrest Bishop For Defying Lockdown To Protest At Chinese Embassy In Lagos

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By Chiemelie Ezeobi.

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested the General Overseer of Resurrection Praise Ministries for Africa alias Jehovah Sharp Sharp, Archbishop Samson Benjamin, for defying the lockdown order to protest at the Chinese Embassy in Lagos.

Benjamin, the police alleged, led about 100 persons to the Chinese Embassy in Victoria Island to protest the maltreatment of Nigerians in China.

According to the cleric, the Chinese were operating freely in Nigeria despite that COVID-19 started in their country but have chosen to maltreat Nigerians and other blacks in China.

It was gathered that officials of the embassy sent a video clip of the alleged invasion to the police which prompted operatives from Victoria Island Division to move to the scene to effect the arrest.

A police source who spoke on anonymity said the cleric was being detained at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, (SCIID), Yaba and may be arraigned in court on Wednesday.

In the video, the bishop denied going to the embassy with 100 persons, insisting that he was there by himself to register his displeasure over the ill-treatment of Nigerians in China.

Efforts to reach the spokesman for the state police command, DSP Bala Elkana, proved abortive as he didn’t return the message sent to him as at press time.

 

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FG Recovers N540bn via Whistle Blower Policy

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By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) has recovered over N540 billion through the whistleblower policy, the federal government disclosed Tuesday.

The revelation was made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the 71st General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) in Port Harcourt.

The minister said the EFCC Whistleblower Policy, which was introduced in 2016 by the Ministry of Finance, recovered over N527 billion, $ 53 million, and £122,890 respectively.

Mohammed, who was represented by the Director, Public Relations and Protocol, Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Sunny Adejoh Baba, said the EFCC similarly successfully launched a major onslaught on the high and the mighty of the society, including senior military officers and their civilian accomplices, indicted in shady deals, leading to the recovery of choice assets across the country.

He enjoined the media to align itself with the policies and programmes of the federal government, aimed at ridding the country of corruption, in order to free funds for development projects, which will uplift the standard of living of the citizenry.

“This effort should not be seen as the sole effort of Mr. President or the government alone. The media has a duty to ensure that the programmes of government, meant to uplift the lots of the citizenry, are projected as a national cause and not just as that of Mr. President or the administration,” Mohammed said.

He also said the BON General Assembly is taking place at an auspicious time in view of next year’s general election.

He appealed to the broadcasting organisations not to yield their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.

He also called on the broadcasting outfits to promote the unity, stability and the development of the country.

“Anything short of this would amount to a criminal abdication of a sacred duty which could spell doom for our collective national life.

“We have had enough sordid examples to learn from that we ought not to allow a repeat at this critical time of our national development.

“It is therefore of utmost importance that the media and specifically, broadcast media, do not allow itself to become a purveyor of fake news and hate speeches,” the minister said.

He restated the federal government’s commitment to allowing the press to carry out its assigned watchdog roles, even as government expects the press to be guided by national interest above every other interests.

 

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Step Up Your Roles In Preventing Crime, Buhari Tells Police

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Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the police to step up their roles in the prevention of crime, so as not to involve the military in the maintenance of law and order in the country.

The president also gave Nigerians the assurance that his administration will continue to give priority attention to the welfare and operational needs of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) so as to restore its lost primacy in the internal security framework of the country.

President Buhari, who made the commitment during a chat with members of the Nigeria Police Service Commission (PSC) and the leadership of the NPF, who paid him a thank-you visit at the State House, Abuja, Monday, regretted that the inability of the police in their constitutional role as the frontline force in the prevention of crime, had led to the military’s involvement in the maintenance of law and order throughout the country.

The president had approved Rank Salary Structure Adjustment, by which the salary, allowances and pension of policemen will be increased.

According to the president, “From Taraba to Sokoto, to the South-south, people don’t feel secure until they see the military. I am pleased to make the increase in salary and allowances in the hope that it will increase the performance index of the police and strengthen Nigeria’s internal security system.”

President Buhari observed that the more efficient the police is, the more confident the government and citizens will be.

He said: “The military should be reserved for higher tasks. The police should be able to cope well with the challenges of armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom and such crimes. In every town and village, there is the presence of the police. From all these places, they should be able to forward first class intelligence to you on which to act.

“There is a need to amplify the question of more men of the police, especially given the condition we are in – emergency in the North-east, pervasive insecurity and abduction for ransom and banditry in many parts of the country. I congratulate you on the success you recorded against criminals taxing people and stopping them from their farms. We are expecting more from you.”

A full-time Commissioner in the Nigeria Police Service Commission, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi (rtd), who represented the chairman, Musiliu Smith, had informed the president that the Rank Salary Structure Adjustment would enhance police welfare and morale.

The Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris also assured the president that the police would redouble their efforts to ensure free, fair and credible elections throughout the country next year.

 

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CUPP Raises Alarm Over Rise In Boko Haram Attacks

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By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja.

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has raised the alarm over the increase in attacks by Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) on military facilities in the North-east, describing it as a national embarrassment.

CUPP, in a statement Sunday by its National Spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said that the opposition parties received with shock the news of the attack on a Nigerian military base in Meitele, Borno State by Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters and the killing over 100 soldiers.

According to him, “It is most heart-rending to realise that this attack happened same week some of our nation’s military service chiefs were frolicking at the APC political party campaign function in the Presidential Villa.”

Ugochinyere expressed shock by the ‘dishonourable silence’ of the federal government on the attacks which only became prominent on the social media after the terrorist group released very gory videos of some of these attacks.

He stated: “For President Buhari to only summon service chiefs for a briefing five days after such a calamity clearly shows the slow response time of this administration to national emergencies and lack of capacity to meet up with the fast pace of developments which affect the lives of citizens.

“We hereby call on President Buhari to salvage the last vestiges of honour left for his regime by immediately sacking the service chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, Chairman of EFCC and Comptroller General of Customs who have at one time or the other found playing politics with their offices instead of doing their jobs with every sense of neutrality.

“This action will both raise the morale of our troops in the fronts that there are consequences for commanders who fail them and also give Nigerians and the international community the confidence that heads of security agencies will be neutral during the fast-approaching general election where the president and his party are headed for defeat.

“The heads of security agencies in Nigeria are now more interested in obtaining intelligence on the meetings of opposition leaders than on the activities of the Boko Haram.

“The police and State Security Services are now more interested in hounding and intimidating opposition leaders and activists than they are in identifying and neutralising the activities of the terrorist group.

“This is a national disgrace especially with the loud mouthing of an outgoing regime which had claimed the group was degraded and technically defeated after alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars.”

 

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