Bayelsa Residents Storm and Plunder Palliatives Warehouse

A warehouse in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, where the state government stored flood palliatives for 2022 was raided by some residents on Sunday night. They took away some food items that were reportedly rotting.

The raid was allegedly motivated by the anger and frustration of the people over the economic hardship caused by the Federal Government’s decision to remove the subsidy on petrol. The removal of the subsidy increased the price of petrol from about N190 to N620 per litre, leading to a rise in the cost of living and transportation.

The Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) said that the food items stolen were not suitable for human consumption, as they were kept during the 2022 flood in the state.

It is not clear if the warehouse contained any of the food items promised by the Federal Government as part of the N5 billion palliative and grant package for the states, announced by President Bola Tinubu.

Reacting on the incident, the Director-General of BYSEMA, Hon. Walamam Sam Igrubia, said in a statement on Monday that the agency was preparing for a possible flood this year, and that he witnessed the disposal of the expired food items, mainly rice and garri, outside the warehouse 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 politicize 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.”