Looters raid Nigeria food warehouse as unrest spreads

Several thousand people ransacked and looted a government food warehouse in central Nigeria on Saturday in the latest in two weeks of unrest sweeping over Africa’s most populous country.

After pillaging hit Lagos and Ede in the country’s southwest, crowds of people raided a huge warehouse in Jos that was storing supplies destined for distribution during lockdowns imposed to control the virus pandemic.

People carry bags of food on their heads during a mass looting of a warehouse that have COVID-19 food palliatives that were not given during lockdown to relieve people of hunger, in Jos, Nigeria, on Saturday. Nigeria, with 200 million inhabitants, counts the highest number of extreme poverty in the world, with close to 90 million inhabitants who are at food risk. (AFP/Ifiok Ettang)

Videos on social media showed thousands of people in Jos carrying away sacks of cereals and rice and bags of pasta. Looters stripped away parts of the roof of the building.

“So during the lockdown they were just hiding the food. I wonder about the kind of government we have,” said Mafeg Pam, who lives in Jos. “Many people have died from hunger.”

Another Jos resident, Mohammed Ibrahim, said: “They hid this food since the lockdown. By now they should have shared it.”

Relative calm prevailed Saturday in Lagos however, where a strict curfew imposed on Tuesday in Africa’s biggest city was eased as a week of violence also subsided.

Peaceful demonstrations against police brutality erupted in Nigeria on Oct.8 and quickly spiralled into one of the biggest challenges to the ruling elite in decades.

Police stations had been burnt, supermarkets looted and vehicles destroyed as violence spread across the economic hub of 20 million, with officials accusing “hoodlums” of taking advantage of the mayhem.

Amnesty International has said at least 12 protesters were gunned down by the army and police in Lagos on Tuesday, and a total of 56 people have died since the demonstrations began.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called for an end to the protests and warned demonstrators not to “undermine national security”.

He has not directly addressed the shooting of protesters in Lagos and sought to shrug off international outrage over the use of excessive force by his security agencies.

“Enough is enough,” the chief of police said in a statement on Saturday, saying security forces would use legitimate means to stop any slide into lawlessness.

The protests against police brutality have received backing from major celebrities, including Beyonce, Rihanna, Cardi B and heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua.

Ifiok Ettang and Sophie Bouillon | Agence France-Presse | Jos and Lagos, Nigeria | JAKARTA POST

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