From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has condemned the looting and burning of the headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) at Marina in Lagos last Tuesday by hoodlums during the hijacked #EndSARS protest.
STOAN Chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup, who spoke on behalf of the body on Sunday, conveyed the association’s sympathy to all board members, management and staff of the agency over the incident, which also affected many official and private vehicles parked within the agency’s vast premises.
AShe further expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives, and prayed God to comfort the affected families across the country
According to Haastrup “setting on fire a national asset like the NPA headquarters, which belongs to all Nigerians, is an ignoble action. We urge the 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.”
She noted that while it is 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 and must also 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,” she said.
“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 hope that an investigation will be promptly launched into the incident to unravel the perpetrators.”
Meanwhile, Haastrup has asked the Federal Government to beef up security at all the seaports across the country and protect port workers against attacks, adding: “The seaports are critical to the economic wellbeing 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 to 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 ports and many perishable items are rotting away.
“We therefore urge the government to make it possible for port workers to return to work immediately so as to minimise the impact of prolonged closure.”