Economic crunch: People now steal pots of cooked food
Recent reports coming from Ilorin, the Kwara state capital and Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi, suggest that cooked food theft is becoming a common occurrence for residents in the state.
According to reports, cooking a pot of soup, especially in the open, is now an invitation to robbers, as cases of eagle-eyed hungry men absconding with cooked food still on the fire is now the order of the day.
Investigations reveal that such incidences have occurred over five times in just a week, in areas such as Tanke, Basin, Sango, Offa Garage, and Kilanko, of Kwara State.
The cooked food stealing trend is widespread in areas without any perimeter fencing and among women who cook or have opted to cook outdoors with firewood.
Some victims of the food theft narrate their ordeal, One Alhaja Hamidalat Olawale at Sango said:
“I was cooking around 5.00p.m. in readiness for the breaking of the fast for the day. It was beans and I decided to use coal pot at the open backyard.
“I had added all the food condiments and was waiting for the broth to dry up. But to my greatest surprise, I did not see the pot of the beans again.
“I was shocked discovering this. What amazed me was that the thief did not come for it before it was ready; he or she came when the food was ready and we were already salivating, meaning the person must have been closely monitoring me.”
Another victim, an undergraduate of the University of Ilorin, Anita Bazuaye, said it was her pot of soup that disappeared beside her window.
“It was painful because as a student, it was difficult for me to get money again for another soup.
“In fact, when I managed to start cooking again, I did not leave the place until I had securely packed the pot inside my room.”
Responding to the incident, spokesman for the Police in Kwara State, ASP Ajayi Okasanmi, said no formal report to that effect had come to him or anyone within the state command, but warned that it is a serious matter and will not be taken lightly with anyone caught in the act.
Okasanmi stressed that the Penal Code frowns at theft and as such anyone caught in the act will be treated accordingly.
In Abakiliki, a middle-aged woman identified as Agnes lost the pot of rice she was cooking to thieves recently.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who visited Agnes’ residence behind Nnodo Secondary School, Amike-Aba reports that she was still in shock over the incident.
“I came back from a village-meeting late on Sunday and put the rice on fire so that my family could have their dinner and eat the remnant on Monday morning. This apartment, as you can see, has no kitchen so we cook in the space in front of the house, likewise other occupants of the building,” she said.
Agnes said that as she went inside her room to fetch some condiments, she was delayed by the attention she had to give to her crying child.
“I gave attention to my child who was crying and by the time I came out to continue cooking, the pot of rice had vanished, with the stove still enkindled. After I recovered from the shock, I started screaming which attracted my husband, family members and neighbours who were all as stupefied as I. When it was established that no occupant of the building took the pot, it dawned on us that the act was perpetrated by a thief who exploited the vulnerability of the improvised kitchen,” she said.
Her neigbour, Justin Mbam-Egbe, noted that the situation had re-awakened security consciousness among the occupants of the house.
“This is the first theft case we are experiencing and we will henceforth be security conscious to avert future occurrences,” he said.
A private security consultant in Abakaliki, Dr. John Odikwa, blamed such incident on the current economic recession in the country.
“The country has degenerated to a level that people now steal pots of rice and soup and with the yuletide approaching, the society should be ready for serious security challenges. The Federal Government should take immediate measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people to prevent total breakdown of law and order,” he said.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ebonyi police command, George Okafor, described the incident as funny and noted that it had not been reported to the command.
“It is difficult for such incidents to be reported but we assure the citizens of the state of adequate protection of their lives and properties,” he said.