Pandemonium broke out Friday when thugs said to be loyal to the suspended chairman of Uvwie Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta State, Mr. Henry Baro, invaded the popular Shoprite and surrounding stalls in Warri and carted away goods worth millions of naira.
The chairman’s thugs were joined by hoodlums unassociated with him, but who wished to partake in the looting opportunity.
The thugs and the hoodlums, it was learned, destroyed various properties, including expensive automated glass doors, all of which was worth several millions of naira.
SaharaReporters reliably learned that the trouble began following a scuffle between the suspended embattled council chairman, Mr. Baro and two armed Navy personnel on mufti attached to Shoprite. The embattled council boss was said to be resolving an issue arising due to a hit and run incident involving a trailer driver who bashed his car along the Effurun roundabout by Shoprite.
While Mr. Baro was arguing with the trailer drive the Navy personnel on mufti arrived on the scene and mercilessly assaulted and manhandled him.
During Mr. Baro’s confrontation with the Navy personnel rumors of his beating filtered into town. Shortly thereafter, several thugs, numbering in the thousands, loyal to the chairman arrived at the Shoprite and immediately invaded the area. Their activities attracted the attention of nearby hoodlums who joined in the mayhem.
According to an eyewitness account, when the casually dressed Naval officers saw the approaching thugs and youths they ran into the main bowl of Shoprite. The two Navy men were quickly pursued by the thugs just before the looting began.
"The theft occurred in broad daylight. It was too much. Come and see how these thugs, youths, and hoodlums were looting and carting away goods. Most affected were the shops selling computers, phones, and other accessories.
“This [the looting] led to the shutdown of Shoprite and other shops for several hours but they later re-opened when the tensions were brought under control," an eyewitness told a SaharaReporters correspondent.
When contacted, the suspended embattled chairman, Mr. Baro denied the fact that his supporters were among those who invaded and looted the Shoprite in Warri. Speaking to a SaharaReporters correspondent he provided his own version of events.
"I was a victim of a power drunk naval officer, Mr. Rex Bogoadjera. I didn't go to the Shoprite, in fact, I have never stepped into that mall after the commissioning where I was present.
"I simply asked to know his identity and he flared up asking me if I was mad and warned me not to ask him again. The next thing I knew he held my t-shirt against my neck and brought out a dagger. He then beckoned for his colleague, who crossed over the road to meet us with a gun.
"While all of this was going on onlookers had raised the alarm and several Uvwie locals as well as many of my supporters trooped in to rescue me. At this point, it was still under control until other criminal elements hijacked the protest and it became riotous. However, I sincerely apologize for what happened. My core supporters would never do such an unholy thing, " Mr. Baro explained.
Delta State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Celestina Kalu and the Manager of Delta City Mall housing Shoprite, Mr. Oni Shola confirmed the invasion.
Last year the Delta State House of Assembly suspended the embattled council chairman, Mr. Henry Baro following politics of opposition and the alleged misappropriation of public funds.