Lawyer and Human Rights activist Femi Falana has condemned the hoarding of coronavirus palliatives in several cities in Nigeria, calling it a “crime against humanity.”
The discovery of COVID-19 palliatives warehouses, where food meant for the public to ease the effects of the coronavirus-induced lockdown earlier this year, led to widespread outrage, looting and stampedes, in Lagos, Jos, Kaduna, Calabar, Ilorin, Ibadan and other Nigerian cities.
“It’s almost like a crime against humanity. Just like some public officers have diverted money meant for providing palliatives meant for people who have been displaced in their homes, internally displaced people, Falana said in an interview with ARISE News.
“How can you hoard? It’s intolerable, it’s provocative. Our government will have to apologise to the Nigerian people. Look at the crowds in Jos. How do you avoid stampedes? And stampedes have happened in some places. Lives have been lost needlessly.”
The lawyer urged state governments to emulate Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who ordered the immediate distribution of palliatives when looting broke out in other parts of the country.
“What level of stealing is this? Members of the ruling class in Nigeria will have to have a serious rethink. In looting the treasury of the country, there are areas you must not get to.
“You can see the ordinary people; they went to look for covid-19 palliatives. Nobody can explain the hoarding of such items meant for the poor. Not bought by the government but bought from money contributed by people in the private sector to help the poor.
“The government must be very careful that you don’t provoke the people to violence, and those are the lessons we have to learn.”
The human rights activist also called on the government to compensate victims of looting, destruction of property and violence, and encouraged casualties to sue for negligence.
“Every Nigerian is entitled to protection of his or her life or property. Once due to negligence, due to lack of proper policing, the government must pay. As a matter of law, if anybody dies, the family memeer has the right to make a claim.
“The government has a duty to compensate those who have lost their properties, breadwinners- that is the position of the law,” Falana said.
Rita Osakwe, Vanessa Obioha