By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos, Oct. 25, 2020 The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mrs Vicky Haastrup, has condemned the looting and burning of the headquarters building of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Haastrup, in a statement in Lagos on Sunday, also conveyed the sympathy of all STOAN members to the Board, Management and Staff of the authority over the incident.
Recall that the NPA building, located on Marina Street, Lagos, was torched by hoodlums on Oct 21.
The hoodlums also set many official and private vehicles parked within the NPA premises on fire.
Speaking on the unfortunate incident, Haastrup said, “setting a national asset such as the NPA headquarters building, which belongs to all Nigerians, on fire is an ignoble action and we urge government to bring the perpetrators of this evil act to justice.
“These are trying times for the country and it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to protect, not destroy, critical national infrastructure.”
The STOAN Chairman said that while it was within the rights of the youth and other Nigerians to express their grievances through protests, such expressions must be done in a non-violent manner.
She said such act must be carried out within the ambits of the law.
“It is rather unfortunate that hoodlums hijacked the otherwise peaceful #ENDSARS protest that received global commendation for its campaign against police brutality in the country.
“Those who destroyed the NPA building, public assets and private businesses, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be termed #ENDSARS protesters.
“They are criminal elements who decided to hide under the guise of an otherwise noble cause, to steal and destroy public property.
“This must not be condoned by any means and we do hope that the relevant security arms of government will secure what is left of the NPA building and other national assets across the country so as to prevent another round of destruction.
“We also do hope that an investigation will be promptly launched into the incident to unravel the perpetrators,” she said.
Haastrup also urged government to beef up security at all the seaports in various parts of the country, while protecting port workers against attacks.
“The seaports are critical to the economic well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Port workers are also essential service workers, so I wish to use this opportunity to urge governments at all levels to ensure that hoodlums are not allowed to gain access into the ports or launch attacks on port workers.
“The country cannot afford prolonged interruption of port operations, though we have seen severe interruptions of services at the Apapa, Tin Can and Onne Ports over the past few days.
“Trucks have been unable to go in and out of the port and many perishable items are rotting away.
“We therefore urge government to make it possible for port workers to return to work immediately so as to minimise the impact of prolonged closures,” Haastrup said.
She also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives, and prayed God to comfort the families of those who lost their lives in various parts of the country.