As the lockdown put in place by government to stem the tide of the Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria continues, prices of food items and other essential commodities have risen significantly in Ondo and Ekiti states.
The situation has also affected the price of bags of sachet water popularly known as pure water, which many individuals and homes rely on for drinking.
A handful of residents of both states, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Wednesday about the situation, said the hike in the prices of food items and essential commodities by traders was adding to the pain already caused by the outbreak of the pandemic.
Following the outbreak of the virus, movement has been restricted in many parts of the country with offices and businesses all closed, thereby denying the people any chance of making money at this time.
The enraged residents accused traders of taking advantage of the situation in the country to inflate prices of food and other commodities in demand.
A secondary school teacher in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Mrs Oluwole Bisola, said the increase in the prices of food and other basic items had inflicted more hardship on the people during this lockdown period.
She said, "I'm sad and it is unfortunate that in Nigeria people are taking advantage of the current lockdown to inflict hardship on others.
"Just because government directed that people should stay at home over this issue of Coronavirus, our traders took advantage of that to increase the prices of items in markets.
"The most annoying aspect of it is that some of the traders would want to even sell rotten food items to customers. They claim that they are not getting supply from the farmers. This is not good at all.”
A civil servant in Ondo, Mrs Justina Ibidapo, expressed dismay over the soaring prices of consumables in the market, adding that traders should not compound the woes of residents already frustrated by the outbreak of the pandemic.
She said, “You can imagine the prices of garri, beans, rice and maize have now soared.
“Before now, a measure of beans sold for N170 but now it goes for between N200 and N250. It is very sad.
"I think the traders should consider what Nigerians are going through at the moment because we are fighting a battle that has no solution yet."
President of Oodua Youth Coalition, Oluyi Akintade Tayo, while reacting to the issue, agreed that the restriction of movement in the country as a result of the pandemic was having a negative impact on the economy especially with prices of basic items shooting up significantly.
He said, "The prices has doubled and it is also becoming alarming.
"I urge government at all levels to quickly do everything possible to subsidize essential needs during this lockdown in order to forestall what we are not prepared for in coming days when citizens can no longer afford food items in the market.”
An agriculturalist based in Akure, Babalola Emorioloye, said those exploiting the Coronavirus pandemic to fleece citizens were unpatriotic.
He noted that business outfits in the country are to provide essential services to people and must ensure that Nigerians do not have to contend with a rise in the cost of commodities at this difficult period.
Emorioloye called for the arrest and prosecution of traders deliberately hiking food prices in the market.
However, some traders, who spoke with our correspondent at Shasha Market in Akure, Ondo State capital, attributed the high prices of commodities to transportation cost and scarcity in food supplies from farmers.