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Monday, April 22, 2024

Law professor counsels FG on social security, warns against food theft

A Professor of Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (SAN), has appealed to the governments at all levels to consider implementing food banks, food stamps, and other social security and safety net options to provide food for the poor and most vulnerable Nigerians

She said the government could achieve this by partnering with non-profit organizations and the private sector.

She also warned members of the public that stealing and converting goods and food shouldn’t be an option in these times of economic crises because anyone caught in the process will face the wrath of the law.

The former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Persons in Africa spoke against the backdrop of the massive breaking into government facilities, carting away foods and other consumables, including building materials in some states and the FCT, amidst public outcry against hunger in the country.

Ezeilo, a former Commissioner for Gender and Social Development in Enugu State, stated this in a Press release signed by her. The release states:

It is disheartening to read about the looting of the Abuja warehouse belonging to FCT.

The severe hunger and extreme poverty faced by many poor and vulnerable Nigerians can push them towards criminal activities. We should all be aware of this situation.

government at all levels must consider implementing food banks, food stamps, and other social security and safety nets for the poor and most vulnerable

I remember a case from 1994 where I defended a 17-year-old orphan girl on appeal. She had been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing cassava from a farm. She was hungry and desperate, yet the magistrate still applied the law.

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However, I pleaded as a pro bono defence lawyer, then representing the Society for the Welfare of Women Prisoners (SWEWP), for her to be acquitted based on her age, being a first-time offender and the circumstances that led her to commit the crime.

The lesson for Nigerians in these challenging and desperate times is that stealing is a crime, and if caught, you will be held accountable, according to our Penal Laws.

Unfortunately, the poor have limited choices and often must choose between a rock and a hard place. Notwithstanding, stealing and converting goods and food shouldn’t be an option.

stealing is a crime, and if caught, you will be held accountable

Now is the time for the government, at all levels, to work in partnership with non-profit organizations and the private sector to consider implementing food banks, food stamps, and other social security and safety net options to provide food for the poor and most vulnerable Nigerians.

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This is especially important for children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly.

Gracie Brown
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