"Hunger riots" in several towns in Nigeria

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Mass looting is increasing in Nigeria despite the repression and calls for calm. The popular uprising, which began two weeks ago in Africa's most populous country, seems to be slowly turning into “hunger riots”.

Videos circulating on social media shocked Nigeria on Saturday. They showed the looting of a food warehouse in Jos, central Nigeria, where tens of thousands of bags of grain, rice or packages of pasta were stored, intended for distribution to the population during the containment of the coronavirus in March-April.

Compact crowds of people scaled the warehouse to retrieve food. A few hours later, there was nothing left, the population having fled with all the bags of cereals, but also tore the jail from the roof and removed the lights, according to an AFP journalist on the spot.

So during the lockdown, we were hungry, and they were hiding the food!

Mafeg Pam, a resident of Jos

What kind of government do we have? We are weak and many are starving. They have been hiding this food since the start of confinement (end of March). All prices have gone up. How do we survive? Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP, on the road to the warehouse, full of people carrying stamped bags Don't sell. Government of Nigeria.

Singer Seun Kuti, the son of Afrobeat King Fela Kuti who has spent his life speaking out against corruption in Nigeria, posted a message on Instagram on Saturday where he calls out to the elites: you spent all these years looting (…), if the rich can loot, the poor too.

In several cities of the country, mass looting continued, as in Ede, in the southwest, where several thousand people also invaded and looted a huge food warehouse blocking all traffic in the city on Friday, according to a witness contacted. by AFP.

Homes of local politicians have also been vandalized in several states, including Calabar in the southeast. The situation was rather calm, however, in Lagos where the fever subsided after days of unprecedented violence which completely paralyzed the city. The curfew has been eased and residents allowed to leave their homes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A young boy carries a bag of cereal on his head.

A young boy carries a sack of grain on his head while looting a warehouse in Jos, Nigeria.

Photo: afp via getty images / Ifiok Ettang

The police chief issued a statement on Saturday evening to call the crowds to order. That's enough. The acts of vandalism (…) force us to stop this deviance towards anarchy. We urge people not to panic and to join police and law enforcement agencies to protect communities, writes Franck Mba, the national police spokesperson in a press release on Saturday evening.

Africa's largest oil producer, Nigeria is renowned for being one of the most corrupt states in the world. The country, which has 200 million inhabitants, is shaken by popular protest movements, born in Lagos. The demonstrations that were initially against police violence are now directed against the government.

The bloody crackdown on peaceful protests in Lagos on Tuesday night, which left 12 people dead, according to Amnesty International, outraged the country and the international community.

According to the NGO, at least 56 people have been killed across the country in two weeks of uprising.

President Muhammadu Buhari, a former coup leader in the 1980s, then democratically elected in 2015 and then 2019, regretted the many lives lost, but gave no official toll on the number of victims so far.

In a televised address Thursday night, he warned that he would not allow anyone to endanger the peace and security of the state and regretted having been too weak during these two weeks of protest.


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