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Abuja looting: Poverty, hunger leading Nigerians into criminal activities — Envoy

A member of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission for Sudan, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, has lamented that severe hunger and extreme poverty faced by many poor and vulnerable Nigerians are pushing people to criminal activities.

She spoke on Monday in reaction to the looting of the warehouse of the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

According to Ezeilo, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a Law Professor at the University of Nigeria, the looting is an indication of a bad omen.

She reminded Nigerians in her statement that stealing is a crime irrespective of  desperate times or the economic challenges facing the country.

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The Law Professor however forewarned that anyone caught will be held accountable according to our Penal Laws.

Her words: “It is disheartening to read about the looting of the Abuja warehouse belonging to FCT. 

“The severe hunger and extreme poverty faced by many poor and vulnerable Nigerians can push them towards criminal activities. 

“We should all be aware of this situation.

“I remember a case from 1994 where I defended a 17-year-old orphan girl on appeal. 

“She had been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing cassava from a farm. 

“She was hungry and desperate, yet the magistrate still applied the law.

“However, I pleaded as a Pro bono defence lawyer, then representing the Society for the Welfare of Women Prisoners (SWEWP), for her to be acquitted based on her age, being a first-time offender, and the circumstances that led her to commit the crime.

“The lesson for Nigerians in these challenging and desperate times is that stealing is a crime, and if caught, you will be held accountable according to our Penal Laws. 

“Unfortunately, the poor have limited choices and often must choose between a rock and a hard place.

“Notwithstanding, stealing and converting goods and food shouldn’t be an option. 

“Now is the time for the government, at all levels, to work in partnership with non-profit organizations and the private sector to consider implementing food banks, food stamps, and other social security and safety net options to provide food for the poor and most vulnerable Nigerians.

“This is especially important for children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly.”

Similarly, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has said the looting of a government warehouse in Abuja on Sunday was a direct message to President Bola Tinubu about the impact of the economic policies initiated by his administration on the masses.

According to the lawyer, the Abuja residents who looted food items reflect the level of hardship the majority of Nigerians are battling currently.

Adegboruwa made this known while speaking at the Channels Television’s breakfast show: The Morning Brief,” on Monday.

The human rights lawyer asserted that Tinubu and his economic team have an assignment of reviewing the current economic policies to renew the survival of the majority of Nigerians.

His words: “Across all states in Nigeria presently there is a crisis of survival from the part of the people. 

“So, it is not just this particular occurrence, a truck bearing foodstuff was randomly attacked and looted.

“I do not support this in any way at all because we must have an environment where we can secure lives and property.

“But it is a reflection of the fact that the economic policies of the present administration are not helping the people of the country and of course, these occurrences showcase the frustration that people are going through.

“You know what they say that we pray that we don’t get to a position where the poor will rise up to be eating the rich.

“I think there is a message to the president and members of his economic team that there is a need to rejig the system in such a way that will allow for the survival of the majority of our people.

“Effect of the fuel subsidy removal has imposed hardship on the people in terms of moving from one end to the other. 

“And of course, factories are closing down, there is high unemployment, cost of living is very high whilst the earning capacity remains the same or even lower.”

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