There was stampede in Maza-Maza, a slum community in Amuwo Odofin, Lagos after residents broke into the state government’s warehouse for palliatives from Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and carted away food items.
The warehouse was a storage point for relief materials received from CACOVID-a private sector-led organisation established to assist the government in combating the coronavirus disease- before their distribution to the vulnerable in the society.
Taking advantage of the unrest across the state arising from the shootings of #ENDSARS protesters in Lekki, locals on Thursday morning stormed the warehouse situated at Monkey Village, Ajegunle looting backs of the palliatives.
They were said to have broken into the place after some officials who usually went there to carry palliatives refused to hand over some to locals who begged them.
Some of the people made videos of the looting, which they described as taking what belongs to them.
Among the items stored in the warehouse were bags of rice, cartons of noodles, garri, pasta, tomatoes, sugar and salt with “CACOVID NOT FOR SALE” boldly inscribed on them.
Old and young residents were seen tripping into the warehouse while some youths pulled down the starch to make it easier for those packing to take out.
Residents told The Nation the looting started as early as 5am, adding some people came with pickup vans.
They wondered why the government would keep so much food locked up when people were hungry.
“The same people the palliatives are meant for, are the same people that looted it. Why didn’t the government share it when they received it? Why wait till October? Don’t they know people are hungry?” a resident queried.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson, Oriade Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Tamiya Hassan has denied knowledge of alleged hoarding of CACOVID palliative.
Hassan said she has no information about the warehouse, adding that she had received several calls on the trending video.
“Nobody told me that palliatives were kept within my jurisdiction until I was bombarded with calls. I cannot supply details about the warehouse. All I know is that people said it was being looted,” she told reporters.
But the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture confirmed the vandalism on its official Twitter handle.
The ministry in series of tweets wrote: “The Lagos Government regrets to inform the public that one of our central warehouses in the MazaMaza area of Lagos was ransacked today.
“This ransacked warehouse was one of the central packaging and distribution points for palliatives donated by the private sector coalition, CACOVID, for the most disadvantaged across Lagos and neighbouring states.
“The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had on September 22, 2020 formally taken receipt of the food palliatives from the CACOVID team meant for distribution to the indigent.
“The government notes that the warehouse in question is not state owned and its usage was made available to the CACOVID group adding that the State Government had been allowed to commence rebagging of food items allotted to it from the quantities meant for South West States.
“The rebagging was being done to account for each beneficiary receipt, as was required and monitored by the CACOVID team. The distribution was on-going but had to be halted due to protests, before the invasion of the warehouse today.
“For effective distribution of the food palliatives, groups such as transport unions, ethnic groups, religious associations, artisans and tradesmen association, market men and women association, people living with disabilities, orphanages and old peoples’ homes among others were being used as distribution channels to their members.”