By Stephen Ubanna
Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director ,Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA is not a happy person. Hajia Usman source of unhappiness was the massive Vandalisation and looting of the Authority Corporate Head office at Marina, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center, by the hoodlums who were said to have hijacked the END SARS protest which took the nation by storm on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.
Looking casual amidst tight security, she had taken some Journalists round the Agency premises and the main building including the annex on Sunday, November 1, 2020, to see things for themselves. It was a horrible scene, for an office that was said to have been rehabilitated with about N5.1 billion and handed over to the Agency by the Contracting firm, about two years ago, precisely in 20218.
The guarded tour was said to have taken the Journalists to the outside premises to see the damaged vehicls and other items, were From there, the Journalists were said to have been taken to the first floor of the office Complex and finally to all the other floors touched by the hoodlums. There is gainsaying the fact that all the six floors of the office Complex including the annex were touched by the hoodlums, numbering over 300, and who were said to be armed with machetes, axe , charms and other dangerous weapons.
A visitor to the NPA, Corporate Headquarters. would be surprised how the premises had been defaced and the office Complex turned upside down by the hoodlums . From the annex to the main building where the Boardroom, studio , Audit to some other departments, including hajia Usman’s office, the story was the same, burning and looting of offices.
Notwithstanding the ransacking of her own office on the sixth floor and removal of vital documents, what may have pained the NPA boss, particular, was the destruction of the Agency Studio, which contains its archival materials between 1954 and date and the looting of the studio as all the Cameras and Computer systems were removed.
Jatto Adams, a General Manger and Head of the Agency Corporate and Strategic Communication was short of words at the destruction of the studio, described in maritime circles as a mini- CNN, because of the sophisticated equipment found in it . More pathetic was the setting ablaze by the hoodlums of the Audit department, thus destroying the Agency vital documents.
Insiders told the Value News t that the only office which the hoodlums could not have access was the Accounts Department despite all the attempts made to do so. The Magazine gathered that they had chased out all the Staff from the building before setting some of the offices they could find their way into including the annex ablaze and then embarked on the looting spree.
Virtually all the official vehicles including buses found in the premises and at the Agency garage were either set ablaze or vandlised. She had confirmed that 27 vehicles parked within the premises of the building were completely damaged while 33 others were vandalised. The damaged vehicles run into millions of naira. The Value News had cited all the burnt vehicles including the three buses that were recently procured by the Management. Over the lastone week the Authority Management and Staff had been working round the clock to gather the debris together in one and clean up the premises to be good looking agin.
The hoodlums may have shown that they were not only out to destroy NPA physical Assets and infrastructural facilities but also to steal. This is evident going with the recent recovery of a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV Stolen from the NPA Corporate Head office in the guise of the END SARS Protest by the hoodlums.
The recovery was to have been made by the Navy. That much was Confirmed by Andy Zidon, Commander, the Base Operations and Acting Executive officer, NNS Beecroft, at the instance of Ibrahim Shetima, a Commodore and Commander, NNS, Becroft. The recovered vehicle was said to have been handed over to the Lagos state Police Command for safe custody. Also, the Police Command under the close watch of Hakeem Odumosu, were said to have recovered some other looted items from the facility. In addition, no fewer than six persons were said to have arrested and interrogated by the police in connection with the arson.
Given the massive damage at the NPA Head office, Hajia Usman, had cried out to the government for support in order to replace all the lost items. It is instructive to note that the National Assembly had had slashed its budget this year . This is where President Muhammadu Buhari has to step in to bail it out from its present financial predicament to come out of the mess.
The Katsina state born Nigerian president may have shown that he is interested in coming to the aid of the Authority as he was said to have directed Babatude Raji Fashola, a former Governor of Lagos state and now minister of Works and Housing, and other south west ministers in his government who were in Lagos to Commiserate with Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor over the destruction of public and private properties in the state by the hoodlums to make a stopover at the NPA Corporate Headquarters to assess the level of damage at the national Asset and report back to him.
Meanwhile. The Insurance Companies engaged by the Authority were said to have started taking stock of properties destroyed by the hoodlums to ascertain the level of damage . The NPA Managing Director may have alluded to this when she said that’’ the building is comprehensively insured’’. The Insurance Companies are said to be working with the relevant units of the Authority, particular, the NPA Insurance Company officials to ascertain the extent of the damage and the value.
Note that once an Individual or a Company insures a property or facility and there is a claim and evidence to back it up, the Insurance Companies take over the Payment. This, according to an Insurance analyst, depend on the amount used for the property.
This may have informed why the Consortium of Insurance Companies that had insured the Authority Corporate Headquarters may have to ascertain the value of the damage and restore it back to the same value where it was before the destruction occurred. Many believe that the NPA multi-billion naira damaged property may be a huge loss to the nation’s Insurance Industry but the Companies cannot run away from it because they had entered into the business of recovering loses, an insider said.
The massive destruction and looting of the NPA Corporate office, may have encouraged the Katsina state born Nigerian President to issue a directive that’’ all public Assets across the country must be properly guarded by the security agencies personnel including the Army’’ . The fallout was the large presence of armed soldiers and policemen, including Department of State Security personnel, DSS, at the NPA Corporate Head office. This may have made the Federal ministry of Transportation Agency and the other government agencies office a no go area for hoodlums attack in the future .
In a related development, the NPA, helmswoman, had told those that cares to listen that the hoodlums attack on the Marina office of the Agency would not affect its operations at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island and the south east ports of Port Harcourt Area 1, Onne, Rivers port, Delta port and Calabar port.
The NPA Managing Director, described as an action woman, in Maritime circles who could not hide her feelings had expressed her regret over the attack at the Tin can Island port on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. Giving an insider information, she had said that the hoodlums had made several attempts to forcefully gain entry into the port operational area but were stopped by Police Mobile Force, PMF, and the Port Policemen including the Nigerian Customs Service personnel.
The hodlums may have succeeded in attacking the Administrative block of the Tin can island port and destroying a truck evacuating cargo from the port but that was how far they could go. As directed by the Nigerian President, security had been tightened up at the ports to avoid a repeat of the stoppage of operations at the Lagos ports for almost four days.