It is exactly one year after some youth across the nation took to the streets of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Rivers, Abuja, Enugu and Anambra States among others in a protest. They used the protest, which was later hijacked by some hoodlums, to call for the eradication of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest, which was supposed to be one of the few successful and well-organized events, turned violent in the hands of the hijackers, forcing hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs to go cap in hands to relatives begging for survival after their shops and offices were looted and vandalized.
Findings revealed to Nairametrics that while only a few of them have rebounded, hundreds of others could not survive the attack, as they were forced to become employees to survive and pay bills.
Victims recount losses …
Femi Adenubi, popularly known as Cap-on, used to own a beverage store on Ikorodu road (Ojota axis). Before the #Endsars incident, he could conveniently pay his rent, feed his family and pay other bills. His fortunes took a nosedive after his store was looted following the violent outbreaks that marred the #Endsars protest.
In an exclusive interview, he told Nairametrics that he was ejected from the shop after he failed to pay his rent. That is not all. He was also forced to start working as a sales attendant with a mobile money outfit when he could not afford to pay bills.
He lamented, “I am presently crippled after I lost over N400,000 worth of goods to the horrible incident. Since then my life has never been the same.
“If not for a few friends and relatives, I may not have survived the trauma. I have been an entrepreneur before my store was attacked and now I have to survive from the stipend I get from working under someone else as an attendant.”
When our analyst asked him if he made an attempt to apply for the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), he explained that he did but to no avail, as he and other victims in the area were not attended to.
According to him, the fund was only given to a few that were highly connected to people in the corridors of power and not to ordinary citizens like him.
“I was so expectant after I submitted my application but I and others didn’t get any response from the government. I also made efforts to get loans from some banks but none of that worked, as I couldn’t get someone as a guarantor. I am pleading with the government to have mercy on us and revisit the LSETF and give us the loan to grow our businesses back,” he added.
A source close to one Mr Okey Adibe, who is the Chairman of Clayarts Place told Nairametrics that the mall was also looted and burnt.
Clayarts Place, which is located at Kilometre 18, Igbo Efon Bus stop on Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, is a plaza on four floors having notable brands like Samsung as clients. Clayart Place caters to their exclusive clients, who desire premium bathroom facilities, and electrical systems.
According to the source, on the ground floor of Clayarts Place is Sims, which sells Samsung electronics, the first and second floors are occupied by Clayarts and they sell bathroom equipment, tiles and switches, among others.
He said, “The fourth floor has Adibe’s office, Clayarts Place. At the entrance of the plaza towards the gate is another company called Tandra that markets food supplements, Goli. All of these were looted, including the goods in Clayarts’ warehouse.”
Adibe was said to have lost about N1.8 billion, which include the Clayarts Place building and the goods in it.
The source said, “The owner has sold his landed properties to get funds in order to rebuild the facility, which is on-going. I doubt if the state government has given him anything for his losses. Government should come and value the whole place. Right now, they went to Circle Mall but they didn’t get to our place. They should attend to us, even though we are small.
“The insurance company could not be of help either, as he was told that losses relating to riot are not part of the agreement he made with the insurance company. He is trying to let the other part of the building that was not affected while rebuilding the other side.”
Mary is another victim of the looting and vandalism that took place during the hijacked protest in October 2020.
The single mother of two, who used to own a drink store around Jakande along Lekki-Epe expressway, Lagos, has now turnedinto what she described as ‘a shadow of herself.’
According to her, the unfortunate incident has forced her to drop her children with her mother in the village until she could get back on her feet.
Mary, who used to have two employees, cannot boast of two meals a day now, as she works as a fuel station attendant in one of the gas stations along the Lekki-Epe expressway.
She said, “I was at home when someone rushed to call me that my store has been looted and that the vandals carted away my drinks (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks), new refrigerators and new television set among others.
“I collected most of the drinks on credit few days to the incident, hoping to pay back in few weeks. I am still paying my suppliers after one year because they had to spread the payment plan for over a year. I divide my salary into three, use a part to pay debt, another to eat and send the last to my children in Delta State.”
Though John Mark didn’t lose his goods or property to the looting, he was among the victims that were directly affected by the incident.
Mark, who used to be one of the supervisors at the Circle Mall (Shoprite Store) around Jakande off Lekki-expressway, is also counting his losses after he was asked to stay at home when the store was looted by the alleged hoodlums.
According to him, the store has not resumed operations since it was attacked in October 2021 and most of its staff were asked to stop working till it resumed operations.
He said, “It has not been easy to survive since we were asked to stay away from work, as I couldn’t get other jobs. COVID-19 has not made things easier too, as not many companies are employing since then, not even fuel stations.”
The figures …
A report from SBM intelligence titled, “Protests and Business,” stated that 29% of businesses surveyed lost between N500,000 and N1 million; 14% lost between N150,000 and 500,000; 14% lost less than N150,000.
SBM surveyed and interviewed 180 business owners in two locations in Lagos state: Oshodi Isolo, and Lagos Mainland.
Lagos state keeps mum
Efforts to get the response of the Lagos State government to the allegation of neglect of the victims of the looting and vandalism were abortive, as the Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho, didn’t respond to the calls and text messages sent by our analyst.
What you should know about LSETF
Nairametrics reported that the state government declared support for owners of stores that were looted and vandalised by hoodlums during the crisis.
The state deputy governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, disclosed this on Friday, October 23, via his Twitter handle.
Lagos State set up a recovery fund for the Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs affected by the attack through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund LSETF.
The fund was to operate with an initial capital of N25 billion contributed over four years by the Lagos State Government but it will also raise additional funding from various sources including donor partners, development agencies, corporate organizations and individuals.
Adopting insurance as a potential tool for driving sustainability in business is a point that shouldn’t be neglected at a time like this.
The impact of the development was a twin shock for Nigeria as a result of a health pandemic being worsened by the protest’s hijackers.
To avoid further losses in the future, it is important for businesses either micro, small, medium to embrace insurance, as stakeholders in the insurance sectors are advised to start discussing innovation and leveraging digital platforms to achieve convenience and efficiency.