Mob hijacks Patience Jonathan's rice gifts

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Adelani Adepegba

A mob on Wednesday seized bags of rice meant for the less-privileged and women at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The bags of rice, which were shared by the wife of the President, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, to mark the nation’s 50th independence anniversary, could not get to the intended recipients, as hundreds of able-bodied men and security agents scrambled for them.

Thousands of bags were stocked at the venue of the event, which was tagged ‘Food Outreach Programme.’ Many women, who could not endure the rowdy atmosphere, had flee to safety, even as security agents beat many persons who had come to partake of the free gifts.

THE PUNCH observed that the situation caused a serious traffic jam along Herbert Macaulay Way, as the crowd spilled onto the road. Many, who had converged on the venue in the hope of getting some bags, also clogged the road with their cars.

Some of the bags were sold at N4,000 each to interested members of the public a few metres from the venue. Many women, who came from as far as Gwagwalada, Nyanya, Kwali, Maraba, Suleja and other surburbs of the Federal Capital Territory, left the ICC disappointed.

Some of them told THE PUNCH that they were unhappy at the way they were assaulted by security agents. They said the security agents were more interested in getting bags of rice for themselves than maintaining orderliness at the centre.

A woman who identified herself as Mama Khadija said that she had looked forward to sharing some rice with members of her family for the weekend. She, however, lamented that all she got for her trouble was assault by policemen.

Another lady, who declined to give her name, blamed the organisers and security agents for allowing miscreants to hijack the programme, stressing that the rowdy situation could have been avoided if women on the queue had been attended to.

Meanwhile, the News Agency of Nigeria reports that the President’s wife also distributed clothing (wrappers) and cooked food at the event.

The President’s wife, who supervised the distribution, said the bags of rice were donations from various individuals and organisations to President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo, which they decided to share out.


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