Bisi Olaniyi, Benin-city
Thousands of Edo State’s youths Saturday invaded the Edo government-owned warehouse on Medical Stores Road, Uselu, Benin, looting valuable COVID-19 palliatives and other expensive items in the massive facility.
Some of the looted items included numerous cartons of noodles, mostly Indomie; bags of rice, beans and toiletries.
While the looting of the items was ongoing, a man lost his life, while a middle-aged woman was injured at the back of her neck, as she was bleeding profusely.
The man, according to witnesses, died while attempting to escape from the warehouse with his heavy loot.
The deceased gained access into the warehouse through the rear opening created on the roof by the looters, with the dangerous opening also used by many of his partners in crime.
The man, having taken his share of the items, made efforts to exit through the same opening, but he missed his steps and suddenly fell, hitting his head on the concrete and died on the spot.
Some soldiers, Saturday morning, attempted to prevent the surging crowd of looters from gaining entrance into the warehouse, but the people, mostly youths, had their way.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, however, described the breached warehouse as a strategic reserve to mitigate eventualities in Edo state.
Obaseki, through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, stated that the warehouse was for storing palliative materials and medical supplies.
He said: “Upon receipt of relief materials, there has been an ongoing process of distribution for the past seven months to the vulnerable and poor population to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the state.
“The vandalised warehouse stored some strategic medical assets. The items looted include vaccines, high-end equipment and other supplies.
“Edo government distributed most of the palliative materials sent to the state and what was stored at the breached warehouse was strategic to mitigate eventualities.
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“It is unfortunate that critical medical supplies, including vaccines meant for children, were vandalised, which is most condemnable.
“The other warehouses for food supplies in Edo State are empty, as the relief materials that were earlier housed in them have all been distributed.
“In the analysis of the trend of coronavirus pandemic by scientists across the globe, studies have shown that there was going to be a second wave of the pandemic. This has been proven to be true in most parts of Europe, where there has since been a second round of shutdown, with its attendant economic implications.
“With this and other possible eventualities, it is only wise for the government to have a strategic reserve.”
Edo governor also stated that in the past few weeks, the state government had been able to fall back on the strategic reserve, in response to the plights of people displaced by flooding in parts of Etsako Central, Etsako East and Esan Southeast Local Government Areas of the state.