Yenagoa, Bayelsa State – The Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) has issued a stern warning to the public regarding the safety of food items looted from a warehouse in Yenagoa, the state capital. The warehouse, which was used to store relief materials intended for victims of the 2022 flood, was recently invaded and ransacked by local residents in a spree of looting that took place on Sunday night.
Director General of BYSEMA, Walamam Igrubia, expressed concern over the condition of the looted items and cautioned those who participated in the looting not to consume the pilfered goods. He asserted that the food items were unsuitable for human consumption and stressed that a responsible and compassionate government like Bayelsa’s would never provide unfit items as palliatives.
Igrubia revealed that in anticipation of potential flooding this year, he had personally visited the warehouse to oversee the clearing of remnants of food items, primarily rice and garri, that were no longer suitable for consumption. These remnants were collected from the warehouse’s floor and placed outside the facility for proper disposal the following day. Igrubia clarified that the remnants were comprised of less than 10 bags of rice and garri, along with some damaged cans of oil.
Furthermore, he emphasized that these items were not fresh food palliatives, and neither the agency nor the state government had deliberately stockpiled them. Igrubia categorically stated that there were no food items to be looted. Therefore, he urged those who had taken the items to abstain from consuming them, citing their own safety as the primary concern.
Despite the agency’s attempt to clarify the situation, some residents expressed their dismay at BYSEMA’s management of the situation. A concerned resident named Alagoa Morris criticized the agency for allowing the food items to deteriorate without being distributed to the victims of the 2022 flood disaster that had devastated the state.
Morris remarked, “If it is true that items related to the 2022 monster flood were stocked and denied to victims, it is unfortunate and raises significant concerns. While hunger in Nigeria is an undeniable reality, not everyone would resort to actions that aren’t supported by the law. This incident should serve as a lesson for all stakeholders involved.”
As the aftermath of the warehouse looting unfolds, Bayelsa residents are grappling with questions about the handling of relief materials and the ethical considerations surrounding their distribution. The incident highlights the delicate balance between addressing urgent needs and ensuring the integrity of aid provided to the public.