‘No Receipt, Hard Luck’: South Africa Police Seize Suspected Loot

Looters take away few items left to grab in a vandalised mall in Vosloorus, on July 14, 2021. The raging unrest first erupted last Friday after former president Jacob Zuma started serving a 15-month term for contempt, having snubbed a probe into the corruption that stained his nine years in power.
MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

 

Along a street in a sprawling Johannesburg township, near a shopping mall plundered during last week’s unrest, police fling open a refrigerator door and toss out packets of vegetables and milk.

They then haul it, squeeze it between brown sofas and a bed already loaded on the back of a white van.

On top of that goes a leather armchair, followed by a blue child’s quad bike that wobbles precariously until it is securely strapped.

South African police who watched helplessly while mobs went on a looting rampage last week, are now on a campaign to recover goods stolen in full view of television cameras.

“Everybody will have to be able to show us the receipts for those flat screens, fridges and all that,” Police Minister Bheki Cele said on local television earlier in the week.

“It is going to be a very tough time in many houses… you must give us the receipt of the appliance, and if you don’t have the receipt, hard luck.”

Officers in northern Johannesburg’s Alexandra township were true to the words of their boss, squeezing through alleyways only just wide enough to walk down, seizing anything that looked new but did not have a receipt.

Soldiers deployed to help quell the unrest stand guard, cradling guns as residents watch timidly from the side of the road.

With the initial booty loaded away, the men head back into the labyrinth of narrow alleyways that criss-cross the sloping township.

They weave past corrugated iron, plywood and plastic houses crammed tightly together, brushing against lines of laundry strung across their path.

One policeman climbs onto stacked concrete blocks marking small front yards to look over the shacks and shouts out directions.

“You have anything here?” asks a soldier peeping into a shack.

They enter homes and come out with sacks of clothes and other pilfered items. Some would have been sold, while others kept for personal use

A few residents are perched on their roofs, from where they look down at the parade.

It emerges that larger looted objects are stored on rooftops because of a lack of indoor space in the small makeshift structures that are part of some South African townships.

– Bustling streets –
With no ladder, one officer is given a leg-up to climb onto a rusty corrugated iron sheet that cracks loudly under his feet — all to see if anything else is hidden on roofs.

Colleagues urge him to tread carefully and avoid the dangerous tangle of electric wires supplying power to the township.

A printer, a sound system and a vacuum cleaner are lowered to the ground.

The latter would probably have been sold to an informal car washer, one officer suggests, hammer in hand.

A woman peers out from her front door, warming her hands around a steaming cup of tea.

She greets the officers and watches them make their way back to the vehicles.

Soldiers remain behind to secure the area as all the remaining goods are packed into the vans.

The street around them is bustling with life. Meat sizzles on open-air grills while a group of people burn a pile of waste further up the hill.

With the confiscated goods headed to a warehouse where business owners will identify them, the vans drive away, leaving butternut, onions and spinach strewn on the dusty road.

#EndSARS: Senate Urges FG To Give 1% VAT To States Affected By Violence

A file photo of cars burnt by hoodlums during the violence in Lagos on October 21, 2020.

 

The Nigerian Senate has called on the Federal Government to allocate one percent of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to states affected by violence and looting during and after the #EndSARS protest that held across the nation in October.

The lawmakers are adopting this resolution after considering two motions moved by Senators Abiodun Olujimi and Gershom Bassey.

The lawmakers noted that private and public assets destroyed by hoodlums in Lagos State were estimated to be in the range of over N1 trillion by the state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: Senate Urges FG To Give 1% VAT To States Affected By Violence

They said a Television station, BRT buses, and about 25 police stations were burnt in the state.

Mr Bassey in his submission decried the looting of warehouses in Calabar and the attack on the residence of some serving and past federal lawmakers, WAEC office, among others.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: British Parliament To Debate Petition Against Nigeria 

“Cross River State being a predominantly Civil Service State may not overcome the effects of the invasion since the destroyed state infrastructure were built from lean state resources over years,” Bassey told the House.

Senator Sani Musa in his contribution said, “ENDSARS came as a peaceful protest but turned violent. It started in Lagos and later spread to other states which led to the destruction of homes, businesses, and government offices. It is very unfortunate.

“The government needs to rebuild what was destroyed and pay compensation as well. It is their responsibility.”

The Senate in response also asked the Federal Government to set up a visitation panel to the various states destroyed by hoodlums across Nigeria for evaluation.

They also directed the committees on National Security, Defence, and Police to investigate the attacks by the hoodlums and how to prevent a recurrence.

Taraba Christian, Muslim Leaders Condemn Looting By Rampaging Youths

(FILE) Residents loot a warehouse containing COVID-19 palliatives in Taraba State on October 24, 2020.

 

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Muslim Council have frowned at the actions of rampaging youths for the destruction and looting of properties in Taraba State.

CAN Chairman in Taraba, Reverend Jirapye Magaji, made the position of the two religious groups known at a joint press conference on Thursday in Jalingo, the state capital.

Addressing reporters on the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest, he asked parents to continuously monitor the activities of their children in order to curb their involvement in crimes.

Reverend Magaji who insisted that destruction and looting of properties must be condemned wondered the kind of leadership the youths intend to offer as future leaders of the country.

He commiserated with the state government and private individuals whose properties were looted or vandalised.

A file photo of a warehouse looted by residents in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital.

 

The clergyman stressed the need for the government to be proactive in handling matters that affect people in trying moments.

He, however, commended the state government for taking the necessary action at the time by imposing a dusk-to-dawn curfew to prevent the situation from further escalating.

Both groups also commended the efforts made by the security agencies in curtailing looting and destruction of public and private properties, although they stated that more efforts were required to prevent a reoccurrence of such incident.

Crowds of rampaging residents had invaded some government properties, including a warehouse containing COVID-19 palliatives donated by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), and the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC).

The warehouse is located at the Veterinary Clinic opposite the secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Jalingo, the state capital.

During the incident which occurred on Saturday last week, a stampede reportedly took place but there was no confirmed figure of casualties.

CACOVID Explains Why Distribution Of COVID-19 Palliatives Was Delayed, Urges Citizens To Stop Looting

Some residents with palliatives looted from a warehouse in Gwagwalada, Abuja on Monday, October 27, 2020.

 

The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has explained why the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives was delayed in some states.

The private sector-led organisation in reaction to the looting of COVID-19 palliatives from warehouses across Nigeria called for calm and revealed that most of the state governments did not receive complete delivery of items allotted to them early enough.

CACOVID explained that as at the time they embarked on the palliatives effort in April, they decided to procure the food directly from the manufacturers, to avoid a distortion of prices in the market.

They added that the food package was designed such that each of the nearly two million vulnerable families received: 10kg bag of rice, 5kg bag of garri/maize flour/semolina, 1 carton of pasta, 2 cartons of noodles, 5kg of sugar and 1kg of salt.

“Unfortunately, the very large size of the order, and the production cycle required to meet the demand, caused delays in delivering the food items to the states in an expeditious manner; hence the resulting delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the state governors.

“For instance, rice had to be milled, semolina and maize flour had to be processed, noodles and pasta had to be manufactured, and sugar had to be refined.

“As such, the first deliveries could not start until June. However, as of October 2020, a sizeable portion of the items had been delivered but yet to be distributed by the governors. Although various states and the FCT had commenced flag-off of the distribution of the food items since early August, some could not conclude the distribution as they were yet to receive complete deliveries of the items allotted to them,” the statement issued on Monday on behalf of CACOVID by Central Bank of Nigeria’s acting Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi explained.

The group said further that although various states and the FCT had commenced flag-off of the distribution of the food items since early August, some could not conclude the distribution as they were yet to receive complete deliveries of the items allotted to them.

“In the interest of transparency and accountability, CACOVID will, in due course, be providing the full delivery schedule and flag-off dates by each state,” Nwanisobi said further.

“Given that the states and local government authorities oversee all relief efforts in their jurisdictions and know their citizens best, we had worked with each governor and the Minister of the FCT, utilising a combination of our protocols and their existing structures and processes to ensure food items reach the intended beneficiaries. We also appointed an independent monitoring team to ensure that the items would be delivered as intended,” the group said.

The group noted that not every warehouse in Nigeria that contains palliatives is affiliated to the CACOVID donation, given that the states, the federal government, and other organisations also made donations.

Police Arrest Alleged Mastermind Of Calabar Conference Centre Looting, Recover Over 1,000 Chairs

 

The Cross River State Police Command has arrested one Johnson Richard Inem, an indigene of Akwa Ibom State for allegedly masterminding the recent looting and vandalisation of the Calabar International Conference Centre (CICC).

The Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo said the suspect was arrested at Esuk Otu Community with various items based on report gathered during the house to house search which started on Sunday in the state as ordered by the state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.

The Police spokesperson explained that the suspect is an automobile mechanic based in Calabar and has confessed to the crime.

“He made a confessional statement on how some of his boys came and carried out this crime. So, most of these people that vandalized government properties are not from Cross River. Most of them are from Akwa Ibom State.

“He has given us some names and we are going after them. For now, we are going on a house to house search and if we find anyone with any government property, any personal individual property, we are going to arrest them,” she said.

The suspect, however, denied looting or vandalising the conference centre.

He claimed that he was sleeping when the police came to arrest him in his house.

The Police spokesperson announced that the command will stop at nothing until other perpetrators are brought to justice as she applauded residents for sharing information and complying by returning stolen items in their possession.

Over 90 other suspects were arrested for allegedly looting chillers, over 1,000 pieces of customised chairs, customised designer carpets among other items.

Looting: Nasarawa Not Afraid Of Any Warehouse Break In – Gov Sule

 

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule has said the people of the state have nothing to fear regarding the recent vandalisation of warehouses and looting of items in some parts of the country.

Speaking on Tuesday at the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization in Lafia, the governor said there is no item stored in any warehouse in the state.

Governor Sule explained that despite a heads-up from the donors of the palliatives, the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) on a possible second lockdown, the state went ahead with the distribution.

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule speaks in lafia on October 27, 2020.

 

“Today in Nasarawa, we are gathered, we are not afraid of any warehouse that is going to be broken because we don’t have anything kept in any warehouse, we distributed these items as they came,” he said.

“The reason why we did that was because we wanted to be very transparent with people, we wanted them to understand these items were meant for them.

“Though we were asked at one point by some officials of CACOVID to hold because there was this fear that there was going to be another lockdown, but we told them in Nasarawa State we believe in Agriculture.

“Majority of our farmers probably have already contacted COVID-19 and because of the farming activity the COVID-19 has gone out on its own without seeing any doctor,” he added.

Police Arrest 144 Suspects For Looting Malls

 

The Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Police says they have arrested 144 suspects in connection with the looting of the malls in the state.

The Commissioner of Police, Kayode Egbetokun disclosed this to journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Monday.

He said the suspects were arrested after combined forces of the security agencies. The looted items were also recovered from the suspects.

Items recovered include motorbikes, bags of cement, mattresses, chairs, generators, toiletries, and food items.

Egbetokun said the arrests will be a continuous exercise.

The looters were arrested after they attacked malls in the state over the weekend, making away with various items.

The police boss, therefore, urged members of the public not to hide the looters but provide information that will lead to their arrests.

Despite Curfew, Looting Of Warehouses Continues In Taraba

The scene of the warehouse that was looted in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital on October 25, 2020.

 

Hoodlums in their number have continued to loot warehouses belonging to both private and government in Taraba State.

Channels Television learnt the hoodlums no longer go for food items alone, but anything they can cart away with.

On a visit to one of the scenes on Sunday in Jalingo, the state capital, looting of warehouses was still ongoing without hindrances by security agencies even as the 24-hour curfew imposed by the government persists.

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Hope Afresh Foundation, said to be owned by the wife of Governor Darius Ishaku, Anna was not also spared in the mayhem.

Broken doors, windows, empty stores, vandalized vehicles, and the littered environment is what has characterized the looting of warehouses between Saturday and Sunday.

Places affected include the veterinary clinic opposite CAN Secretariat, the State Transport Cooperation Store, Agricultural Development Programme, Agro product warehouses among several others.

For instance, at the State Transport Cooperation, the hoodlums looted all the tricycles meant for empowerment programmes, offices, destroyed vehicles as well as made away with passengers goods.

Reacting to the development, the General Manager of the Transportation Company, Ahmed Ishaku described their action as worrisome and unfortunate.

READ ALSO: NECO Postpones 2020 Exams Indefinitely

“In fact in the administrative offices, everything was carted away,” Ishaku told Channels Television, adding that “we are yet to assess the cost of the damages done to our blocks.”

“I received a phone call from my company secretary that hoodlums have come to vandalize our store.

“We borrowed the store out to SEMA and NEMA and have no business with the relief materials in there.”

Also on a visit to Hope Afresh Foundation, there were bloodstains all over, even the water cistern was said to have been carted away.

Though the wife of the Governor is not on the ground as at the time we visited, her aides reacted to the level of destruction.

One of them and the assistant head of ICT, Gambo George who was visibly in tears, described the incident as wickedness.

“This is nothing short of wickedness because there has never been a time any form of palliative has been brought to this facility, but our office is vandalized,” George said.

While lamenting the extent of damage done, he revealed that the facility was created to uplift the poor and vulnerable in the state.

“We experienced a huge loss and this facility was put in place to bring skills acquisition to people to help build them in their entrepreneurial drive,” he noted.

Though millions of naira have been lost to this unfortunate situation, the government is yet to speak on the next step it will take in tackling the unrest.

Meanwhile, the State Police command is yet issue any statement as to measures so far taken to curtail breakdown of law and order as well as the total number of persons feared killed in the incident.

Desperation For Reelection Caused Latest Looting – Prof Sagay

LootingNigerians could be in for more surprises in the New Year as more high profile personalities might face trial in 2016.

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Professor Itsey Sagay, in an exclusive interview with Channels Television’s political correspondent, Seun Okinbaloye, said that the last set of looting of the nation’s wealth was in desperation to win elections at all cost.

“What I saw from all I have put together is that this last set of looting arose out of determination for reelection. Money was being distributed recklessly and thoughtlessly in order to get back to power at any cost.

“The evidence is still hot, the witnesses are present. The amounts are huge and unprecedented; amounts that have crippled the government from functioning effectively.

“The only thing you can do is to go after those first and there is much. I can tell you that the corruption is at every level; from these prominent politicians to the lowliest civil servants and even private sector.

“But the ones in the public sector, over which these high profile politicians are involved, I suspect, (would make up) probably over 90% in terms of assets that have been stolen.

“Those are the things that have to be dealt with first because they are immediate. So it is not discriminatory, it just happened that the people in government are doing these things. We are all living witnesses of what happened in the NSA’s office.

“You cannot overlook those things and say ‘oh they may suspect me of being selective’. If you leave it then you have left the substance,” he said.

Professor Sagay gave the assurance that the present government remains committed to fighting corruption at all levels but acknowledged the need for caution.

“My personal view, not the committee’s view and certainly not the government’s view, is that the position of the President is a sensitive one. If somebody has been a president before he should be very careful in thinking of any physical thing like incarceration and so on.”

He added, “Efficient investigation, effective prosecution, speedy adjudication and effective sanctions. Those are the four policies we are working on.

“You’re going to see slowness at the beginning but the results, when they begin to come, will make a great impact – a decisive departure from the past.”

Ex-Governor’s Pension Law Must Be Scrapped – George Eke

George EkeA legal practitioner, George Eke, on Wednesday advocated that the controversial ex-governor’s pension law be scrapped and a “Salary For Life” approach be adopted to allow those who have served to have benefits after their time in office.

“Let them have, at least for serving, life pension” he said, while on Sunrise Daily, describing the extra perks including cooks, security aides, houses as “looting and an abuse of the office.”

Although he commended Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpbabio for bringing the discussion to the front burner, Eke insisted that the law was an attempt by governor’s leaving office to get enough money to keep them secured after their tenures.

He stressed that the bill has been passed in almost all the States of the federation and wondered where the NGO’s and civil society groups were when the law was initially passed.

According to the lawyer, the perks for those who have served in office are too much, which is why many become desperate to be in power.

“Why must the governor be in the sky after serving?” he asked, noting that no destitute contests for the position of governor and so the law mandating that a 5-bedroom house for governor “is rubbish”.

On the health pension, Eke said the governors should make the health system work and then they can be given free medical attention after office.

“Let them have at least for serving, life pension” he said, describing the extra perks of cooks, security aides, houses in Abuja as “looting and an abuse of the office.”