Written by Ugonma Uzoanya
Over the past few days, thousands of Nigerians all across the states of the Federation have been discovering and raiding warehouses where Covid-19 palliatives were stored. Some were also stored in the houses of politicians.
Some of the items found in the raided warehouses included cartons of noodles, sacks of garri, bags of rice etc. In some cases, the food stuff was already spoilt due to poor and prolonged storage.
In Osun state, the government explained that what caused the delay was because they were waiting for officials from Abuja to “commission” the goods before distributing them.
In Lagos state, the Majority leader of the house of Assembly, SOB Agunbiade said he kept the palliatives in his house because he planned to distribute them on his birthday.
In Kaduna state, the Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe has said they would trace, arrest and prosecute those who looted the Covid-19 items in the state. Balarabe stated that “there can be no other word but theft for describing the looting of food items donated by CACOVID.
On circumstances surrounding the hoarding of COVID 19 palliatives in warehouses, the Socio-Economic rights and accountability project SERAP has urged the Independent corrupt practices and other related offences commission ICPC to investigate this act.
SERAP also asked the ICPC “to visit the states were Covid-19 palliatives have been discovered in warehouses and to track and monitor the distribution of palliatives across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital territory, Abuja, to remove the risks of diversion and ensure that the palliatives get to those most in need, and not used for political or corrupt purposes”.
Meanwhile, during the Nigeria Governors’ Forum meeting on Monday, the allegations of palliatives being hoarded was denied.
In a statement titled ‘Governors and the CACOVID palliatives’ signed by the Head, Media and public affairs of the NGF, Abdul Razaq Bello-Barkindo it reads in part,
“The NGF reemphasizes and corrects the impression that palliatives found in warehouses that were broken into in Lagos and some other states were kept in storage for members of the society, especially our vulnerable citizens.
“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.”
Bello-Barkindo further said, “For the avoidance of doubt, some of the palliatives had the CACOVID stamp embossed on them, meaning that their source is unambiguous.
“As we know, CACOVID operations are mainly domiciled in Lagos, being the headquarters of most of the public-spirited organizations, corporate bodies and individuals that came together to form the Coalition Against COVID-19 –CACOVID”.
“Until mid-October, when the NGF had its last meeting, up to ten states had not participated in the flag-off ceremonies for the distribution of palliatives in their states. This was because the items meant for distribution in these states had not been completely received from CACOVID”.
“Some other states that still had palliatives in their warehouses chose to keep a strategic reserve ahead of a projected second wave of COVID-19”.
“A couple of weeks ago, some states were still receiving palliatives from the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.”
The NGF has stated that no state has hoarded any palliatives and also assured all contributors to the palliatives that full accounts of all items received and distributed were properly recorded prior to the looting.