Many canteens and bukas are now wary of midnight raiders who
burgle their shops taking away foodstuffs and stew meant for the next
day’s business. TADE MAKINDE, OLALEKAN OLABULO and SEGUN ADEBAYO report
that the trend is a disturbing story of hunger in the land.
IT was a hot afternoon. At a restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos
State, two members of staff of the Department of Petroleum Resources
(DPR), sat to eat their favourite meal for lunch when a man in suit
walked to their table. He took a seat opposite them and dragged the
plate in front of one of them towards himself and began to eat
voraciously. The two friends were taken aback, but soon composed
Without saying a word, the man in suit consumed the rice, beans and
dodo meal to the last morsel. The two friends kept quiet, waiting for
what could happen next.
“I thought the guy was mad. There are many mad people in Lagos
wearing suits, my brother. I winked at my friend that he should not do
anything but watch.
“After the guy finished eating, he apologised and said he had not
eaten a good meal for three days and could have fainted if he didn’t put
anything in his tummy. He apologised further, saying that if he had
started begging us for support when he came in, he was not likely to be
taken seriously. I gave him N1,000. My friend didn’t say anything, he
just ordered for another plate of food for himself and a takeaway for
the guy,” the man told Sunday Tribune.
This event was just a trending narrative of the situation in the
country as hunger, occasioned by the economic recession, continues to
bite harder. It is no news that prices of foodstuffs have risen, just as
some people are now midnight raiders of restaurants and canteens,
stealing foodstuffs, pepper, fish and meat, which the owners had
prepared for sale the following morning.
Carol, also known as “Iya Ropo,” is a very popular canteen operator
in Araromi area of Sango in Ogun State. Between January and now, her
shop had been burgled twice by yet-to-be identified people who went away
with her foodstuffs and other items.
Ope, one of the attendants at the canteen, who spoke with Sunday
Tribune, said that her boss had decided to be taking her foodstuffs home
when it became clear that the perpetrators might come back.
‘Since I came here last year, our shop had been burgled thrice. I
heard that they did that even before I came. The first one since I came
was the worst. They took our raw rice, stew, fried meat and even our
disposable plates,” Ope stated.
She also said that: “after the first time, they came back and still
stole some foodstuffs, but after that, we decided to be taking our
foodstuffs home. It is very strenuous, but that is the only thing we can
Iya Ropo confirmed that her shop had been burgled on three occasions
this year. She also stated that she never reported any of those
incidents to the police. The canteen operator decided not to report “in
order not to waste more money.”
Iya Ropo, who claimed to have been operating in the area for over 13
years, stated that she never experienced such burglary incident until
the last one year.
“I started with hawking before I got this shop. I have been here for
about eight years and my shop was never burgled until about a year ago.”
In Ibadan, Oyo State capital the same occurrence is also trending.
Within one week of this month, two restaurants at Imalefalafia, Oke Ado
area of the city, were broken into and foodstuffs carted away. One of
the restaurants had been locked up for days as customers were left in
the dark as to what might have caused the closure. It was assumed that
the owner had travelled for a social event outside Ibadan until those
close to her informed others of her predicament.
“Neighbours called early that morning that her shop had been broken
into. Many heard movement from around her shop in the early hours of the
morning. They thought she was the one working. She used to get to her
shop between 4.00 a.m and 5.00 a.m everyday to prepare for the day’s
“When she told them that she had not been to her shop and had neither
sent anyone there, we knew something was wrong the moment she began to
run to her restaurant. When she got there, we saw the back door opened
and when we got inside, everything in her shop – raw meat, yams,
semovita, yam flour, pepper, drinks, salt, matches, plates, bottled and
sachet water, everything except the deep freezer that was too big for
the door – were taken away. They would have taken it too,” one of the
neighbour who did not want to be identified told Sunday Tribune.
According to the Chairperson of Oyo State Food Vendors Association,
Alhaja Hamudalat Lawal, otherwise known as Iya Dunni, the situation has
become so rampant in the last few months with many food vendors forced
to close their shops and stay in their houses until the trend is
checked. She blamed the problem on hunger, adding that: “I don’t know
what burglars could possibly be looking for in the shops of food
vendors. We don’t keep money in our shops. What is happening now is an
indication that there is hunger in the land. It is frustrating and very
Sunday Tribune investigation revealed that about 100 shops have
reportedly been burgled in Ibadan in the last few months, most of them
located around Ijokodo, Oke Ado, Sango areas of the city. Iya Dunni said
the condition of the country’s economy had forced many people to take
to other means of survival.
“I want to appeal to the government to please look into this matter
before it drives many food vendors out of business. I really don’t
understand why people would break into food vendors’ shops to steal
foodstuffs and soup ingredients. It shows that the people are hungry. If
people are no longer interested in stealing money but foods, then the
government should know it has big task in its hand.
“At this point, we can only appeal to the government to come to our
rescue because things are getting bad by the day and nobody is giving us
any explanation. We hope that this unusual development will not drive
us out of business,” she said.