Some residents of Bayelsa on Sunday night broke into a warehouse in Yenagoa where 2022 flood palliatives were kept by the state government and stole some food items said to be already decaying.
The warehouse located along Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa, the state capital, was looted by people said to be angered due to the hardship in the country occasioned by the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol by the Federal Government.
The subsidy removal moved up the prices of petrol from around N190 to about N620 per litre and has adversely affected the prices of goods and services as well as transport fares.
The Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) said that the food items carted away were no longer good for human consumption, because it was stored during the 2022 flood in the state.
President Bola Tinubu-led administration had announced a sum of N5 billion in palliative and grant to the states for onward distribution to Nigerians, but it was unclear if the warehouse looted in Yenagoa housed food items promised by the Federal Government.
Reacting to the invasion of the warehouse, the Director-General of BYSEMA, Hon. Walamam Sam Igrubia, said in a statement on Monday that the agency was preparing for an impending flood this year, when the DG visited the premises, and in his presence, remnants of food items, notably rice and garri that were no longer fit for consumption, were cleared from the warehouse and placed outside for disposal before the invasion.
He said: “The Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) notes with surprise and concern the unwarranted invasion of the premises of a privately-owned warehouse in the Kpansia area of Yenagoa, the state capital.
“The incident occurred about 7.45pm on Sunday, August 27 almost an hour after the Director-General, Hon. Walamam Sam Igrubia, alongside some BYSEMA personnel, left the warehouse premises.
“During the 2022 flood in the state, the Agency used the warehouse to store food items. As part of preparations for an impending flood this year, the DG visited the premises, and in his presence, remnants of food items, notably rice and garri that were no longer fit for consumption, were cleared from the warehouse and placed outside for disposal the next day.
“The remnants, which were swept from the floor and packed in disused bags, were less than 10 bags of rice and garri and with some broken cans of oil.
“For emphasis, BYSEMA states that these items were not fresh food palliatives and were not hoarded by the Agency or the state government.
“Importantly, these items are unfit for human consumption and a responsible, caring government like ours will not give Bayelsans such items as palliatives.
“In essence, there were really no food items to loot. So, those who carted away the unfit items are please advised in their own interest not to consume them.
“It also condemns the attempt to politicise the incident by opposition elements in the state, who seek to score cheap political points from the ugly occurrence.
“The agency assures people of the state of its preparedness to handle the distribution of palliatives provided by the Federal Government as part of cushioning the effects of its fuel subsidy removal policy as well as the fallout of an impending flooding this year.”