Hard times push more Nigerians to stealing food ~ SlimXclusive | Your number 1 infotainment portal - Now news is at your fingertip

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hard times push more Nigerians to stealing food

A scene played out last week Sunday in Kate, Kubwa, a community in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Around 12 noon when everyone in the neighbourhood had gone to church, a middle-aged man, simply named Abdulrahman, broke into his co-tenant’s food cupboard, brought out a pot of cooked rice and another one containing stew and carried them to his apartment. He had seen his co-tenant keep the food in the cupboard in the morning. Abdulrahman’s wife, not minding where the food came from, took the pots from him and served herself, her husband and their two children. While they were enjoying the meal, their co-tenant came in with his family and saw that his food cupboard had been burgled. Before he could ask questions, Abdulrahman and his wife came out to apologise for what they had done. Their excuse was that they were hungry and had no food in the house to eat. According to a tenant in the neighbourhood, Mr. Peter Ekpoyong, who narrated the incident to our correspondent, that would not be the first incident he had witnessed in recent weeks. He said, “I have witnessed about three similar incidents now in the past few weeks. People are hungry and what they have resorted to do is breaking into people’s homes and food cupboards. If you catch them eating your food, they will explain to you that they are hungry and have no other option. The family who stole my co-tenant’s food was even asking whether they could still get more food. “The two families use the same kitchen, which was why Abdulrahman could access the food cupboard. After the incident, many of us now keep our food cupboards inside our rooms. We would like to feed those who don’t have, but things are hard. Everyone is hungry. Things are getting harder; people are hungry.” Ekpoyong, who is a trader at the Kuduru market in the city, witnessed a similar incident in the market about three weeks ago. According to him, a woman, perhaps in her 40s, had come to the market when she was probably tired of starving herself to death in her house. He said, “I think it was on a Thursday. The woman stole some foodstuffs, including garri and beans, but she was caught. She was beaten to stupor by traders that day. I pitied her when she was crying and pleading that it was because of hunger that she stole the food items. She said she was hungry and that there was no one she could approach in her neighbourhood for help. “But no one heeded her pleas. They beat her until her clothes were nearly torn. It was a lady who rescued her by paying for the stolen items. That was how they left her. I have never witnessed incidents like this happening before. I used to hear about them, but these days, I now witness them myself. People are really hungry. I am broke too. There is no money anywhere. Things are a bit tight right now.” In recent times, there have been more cases of Nigerians stealing food, mainly due to the harsh economy. With food prices skyrocketing and high inflation in the middle of a recession, more Nigerians are becoming poorer and broke, according to a Lagos-based lawyer and social commentator, Bisoye Odubona. He said, “If not for the ego that some of us have, that is why we still iron our shirts and put on suits as if nothing is happening. The truth is that the economic condition is in a bad shape and people are suffering. People are selling off their property at ridiculous prices. I have a friend who is looking for someone to buy his car. “He has a wife and two kids and he has parked the car for long because there is no money to buy fuel. Now he wants to sell the car and get some cash. Many states are owing their workers salaries and there is no hope when they are going to be paid. Imagine the plight of such workers.” On Friday, August 19, 2016, an Abuja-based man, Aminu Iyawa, narrated on Facebook how

a primary school teacher from Gireil Local Government in Adamawa State, identified simply as Julius, was beaten to pulp after he was caught stealing food in his neighbour’s house. Iyawa added that after the beating, Julius was taken to the hospital for treatment. Saturday PUNCH learned that Julius and other primary school teachers in the state were being owed six months salaries by the state government. A teacher in the state, Ahmad Muhammad, confirmed that the development had turned some of his colleagues into beggars and thieves. “I’m also a primary school teacher in the state and we have not been paid our salaries of up to six months by the state. Many of us are finding it hard to live,” he said. In a similar vein, around 11am on August 18, 2016, a 52-year-old man, Amos Musa, from Tunga, Nasarawa State, was said to have slumped after a porter absconded with the foodstuffs he bought at the Madalla market in Suleja, Niger State. According to eyewitnesses, Musa, who has two wives and 11 children, had bought yam tubers, garri, rice, a gallon of palm oil and soup ingredients, had called for the porter to convey the food items to the main road in order to take a taxi. Musa was said to have lost his sight of the porter carrying his food items when he stopped to buy some fairly used clothes in the market. Apparently, it was when the wheelbarrow pusher noticed that Musa’s attention was no longer on him that he decided to abscond with the goods. On Thursday, August 25, 2016, a 30-year-old man, Samodi Olorodo, was remanded in prison custody for allegedly stealing 18 tubers of yam and a bunch of vegetables worth N50 from a storeowner, Adeneye Safiu, in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The prosecutor, Olakunle Shonibare, told the Abeokuta Magistrates’ Court that the offence was committed on Monday, August 1, 2016 at about 10am in the Oke-Odo area of the city. Safiu had reportedly seen the accused person coming out from his store with the tubers of yam and bunch of vegetables on his head. When he asked Olorodo where he got the food items, the latter could not give a sound response. This made him call the police who then arrested the accused. Recently, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps reported about the arrest of two people who were caught stealing food in the Jidari Polo area of Borno State. The NSCDC Commandant, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said that the command had recorded 10 complaints of food theft by residents before the arrest was made. He said the culprits specialised in invading people’s houses on Sundays when Christian residents had gone to church. “What is very surprising is that they didn’t steal anything apart from food items. Anytime we hear of such incidents, we always discover everything to be intact in the houses except for the foodstuff,” he said. An economist, Mr. Babatunde Abraham, said it was important for the President Muhammadu Buhari led- administration to quickly resolve the hunger crisis in the country. “The economy is in recession, no doubt, but when hunger persists, it creates room for crime. These people stealing food items may graduate to robbing banks if care is not taken. We shouldn’t overlook this situation. It is saddening that the rate of food theft has increased. The government should quickly find ways of combating hunger,” he said.



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