By Stephen Ubanna
Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, had said that the Authority is enjoying relative peace at the nation’s seaports because of the cordial working relationship with the Army.
The NPA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that the Army had helped the maritime agency overseeing the Lagos seaports of Apapa, Tincan island port, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, Kirikiri-Kiri Lighter Terminal Limited, KLT, Phase I and II, and the south east ports of Onne, Rivers port, Delta port and Calabar port, in Cross river state to maintain Law and Order within its corridors over the years.
He had made the remarks, during the recent visit of Major Gen. Obinna Ajunwa, General Officer, GOC, 81 Division, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre in his Marina office.Bello-Koko, the NPA, CEO, may have gladdened the heart of the Army Chief when he applauded the 81 Division, military High Command for their swift deployment of soldiers to the Authority’s Corporate Head office during the Endsars imbroglio where aggrieved protesters had invaded the office.
He had said that without the quick intervention of the military which had prevented the protesters from looting the office complex, or destroying property belonging to the Authority as well as prevented the hoodlums from molesting the staff, it would have been a gory scene.
The NPA helmsman, may have taken advantage of the Army GOC, visit, to reassure the Command that the Authority will continue ‘’to strengthen the existing working relationship between the two parties in order ‘’to take the nation’s seaports safe at all times’’.He was said to have expressed regret to the hearing of the GOC, about ‘’the illegal activities going at at the Takwa bay corridor, which includes, pipeline vandalisation, oil bunkering, and sea robbery among others.
He was said to have stressed the need for the soldiers ‘’to help protect the NPA facility from being vandalized by the hoodlums who are residing in at the islands and communities where petroleum pipelines passed through. He was said to have made it clear to the Army Major General that ‘’the Takwa bay facility belonged to NPA and had been gazetted’’ noting that ‘’only a part of it was given to the military for operational exercises’’ but was surprised that the land was being used to carry out series of illicit activities such as drug distribution an harbouring hoodlums.
In apparent response to the NPA’s Managin Director’s emotional outburst, Gen. Ajuwa, who could not hide his feelings had said that the 81 Division senior officers were at the NPA Headquarters as part of the military tradition of familiarizing with its neighbouring agencies.
He was said to have assured, Bello-Koko, the NPA boss and his Management team that the 81 Division , under his Command , will continue ‘’to assiduously carry out their core mandate of protecting lives an property in its areas of jurisdictions.
Informed sources told The Value News, that he and his team had embarked on the visit to acquaint the 81 Division High Command with the NPA, Authorities, which is one of the closest government agencies to it the Army in Lagos, having assumed duties some three months ago. ‘’I assumed duties three months ago and I felt as part of my training , we, should visit agencies in my environment and NPA, happens to be one of them’’, noting that his men are ready ‘’to carry out their responsibility of protecting lives and property at all times within the nation’s seaports’’.
Mrs. O. Onyinlola, a Lawyer and General Manager, who had just assumed duties as the agency Head of Corporate and Strategic ommunications, had said that the Army GOC, did not leave the Authority premises on the day of the visit without responding to the MD’S accusation that a portion of the Takwa bay facility’’ is used for drug distribution and harbouring hoodlums’’.
Given what is happening at the Takwa bay axis , which may have been made known to him before the visist too NPA, he had told the Authority that ‘’the Command was discussing security related matters with the various government agencies by way of being proactive in curbing the unforeseen circumstances as the Yuletide period was fast approaching coupled with the forthcoming 2023, general elections’’.
He did not hesitate in telling the NPA, Management that in spite of the fact that security had been tightened up at Takwa bay, but ‘’he did not rule out any negative scene’’, stressing that they will continue to plan ‘’to curb any unforeseen eventualities’’.
Insiders told The Magazine that the Takwa bay port facility in the recent time had been constantly raided by the 81 Division soldiers. This may have raised the hope of NPA, officials of r sanity being restored in the area by Gen, Ajunwa and his men.
Although, the soldiers are doing their best to restore peace in the area, Gen. Ajunwa had said that he would further ensure that that ‘’the Command work with the NPA team, to come up with a lasting solution to the issue at hand, which many believe include the demolition of illegal structures and eviction of persons illegally residing at the islands and Communities around the Takwa bay.