Are food items lootied from government and private warehouses making their way into some Abuja markets , or what informed the crash of staple food in the markets during the week?
The nagging questions come as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Mohammed Bello, has hinted that shanties around the Idu Industrial Estate will be demolished because of the looting of public and private warehouses by hoodlums around there.
His revelation comes amid whispers that other slums and settlements around the Gwagwu, Idu, and Karmo axis, as well as other places in the Federal Capital City will come under the bulldozers as part of security measures to secure the city after the mass looting between last Sunday and Monday in Abuja.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, there was an unbelievable crash by almost 50% in the price of a mudu (measure) of rice and beans. From N900 per measure, many said they bought for between N450 and N500.
Beans, which sold for N500 per measures, sold for N300 l at the Nyanya market, in a crash that market analysts says beats every projection, except an uncontrolled influx, either from hoarders, the black market or government’s strategic grain reserve silos.
Many fear the price crash is a result of the looting of government and private warehouses. Others are looking to see if the price crash will be replicated at the neighbouring Mararaba market on Friday and Karu market on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello accompanied by the heads of the various security agencies and military formations in the FCT, traditional, community and business leaders, and other senior government officials undertook a tour of the Idu Industrial Zone on Tuesday.
The tour was to assess the level of damage done to some of the factories and warehouses in the area by hoodlums and other criminal elements in the wake of the ENDSARS protest.
Malam Bello expressed extreme displeasure at the looting and damage to property by the hoodlums, and pledged that the arrested culprits will be duly prosecuted.
The Minister assured that the FCT Administration was working with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the Idu Industrial Zone is protected because it is the industrial nerve center of the city where thousands of residents are employed along the manufacturing value chain.
He also called on the residents of the community especially staff of the affected companies to be vigilant and volunteer information to the security authorities as to the possible identity of the looters adding that discussions were being held with the community leaders in the area with the intention of tracking and recovering the looted items.
He urged the business owners to cooperate with and work very closely with the security agencies for the recovery of the looted items, many of which he said are specialized machines and equipment that cannot be easily disposed of.
The Minister also asked them to be more security conscious even as efforts are made to beef up the security of the area.
“All these shanties attached to the walls of factories shouldn’t be here because once they are here, you don’t know who is there. They are neither staff, they are neither people from the city. But if it is inside the factory, we know they are staff. So, this is one area we have to work together with you to clear everything so that whoever is here is somebody that is meant to be here”, Bello said.
Also speaking the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, said that the police command had massively deployed personnel to the area and have arrested over 71 suspected looters, vandals and hoodlums and recovered some of the stolen items.
He adds, “.We have adopted a very strong strategy in most of our neighboring villages where we are liaising with the villages there. Wherever they see items stolen and hidden in the forest, we will be going there to recover them. The company officials are also cooperating with us and giving us every necessary assistance to recover most of the items”.
The Chairman of the Abuja/Nasarawa/Niger Branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr Odun Emasealu who accompanied the FCT Minister on the tour commended the efforts of the FCTA in containing the situation during the vandalisation of warehouses and factories.
“As manufacturers, we invest a lot and we do much to keep commerce going. We now know that we have support from the administration and they actually came. In fact, as at yesterday, while the looting was going on, the Hon. Minister was in touch with us, calling more than 10, 15 times, calling all of us to ensure that we are at peace and today, he has come to see for himself. This is a big encouragement for all the manufacturers and we promise that we will keep investing and keep doing our best to employ a lot of these youths and create a peaceful place for us to live. On behalf of MAN and the Executive Council, we are very impressed and once again, we say thank you” he said.
The business owners commended the timely intervention of the security agencies, stating that the damages to their property could have been much worse as the hoodlums were forced to flee on the arrival of the security personnel.