A detachment of heavily armed soldiers was seen on Wednesday guarding the corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Marina Street, Lagos, as many Nigerians took to the streets in various parts of the country to mark the first #EndSARS memorial in commemoration of the shooting of protesters by the military at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Aside the unusual heavy military presence near the entrance of the NPA building, guests were thoroughly scrutinised by regular NPA security officials before they were granted access into the facility.
#EndSARS was a decentralised social movement, and a series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. Protesters asked for the disbanding of a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police Force called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), among other demands.
The #EndSARS protest started on October 3 until October 20, 2020 when it was dispersed by the military at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos following violent escalations, which included attacks on government and private properties.
The following day October 21, 2020, about 300 hoodlums reportedly invaded the headquarters building of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), looted and set part of the six-storey building on fire.
The now suspended Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman had said that the authority lost items worth over one billion naira and 27 vehicles to the inferno. She also said that 33 other vehicles, 22 of which belonged to NPA staff, were vandalised. She said the hoodlums also made away with a Toyota Prado SUV, a Bajaj motorcycle and one Hilux patrol van.
“Aside burnt building and vehicles, other working tools like 317 computers as well as photocopiers, were looted. The cost of replacement will be above a billion naira when added to the N807million already estimated for rehabilitation of the burnt building,” Bala Usman had said.
Port terminal operators under the aegis of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) immediately rose to the aid of NPA after the carnage, donating vehicles and several office items including computers, scanners and photocopiers to cushion the effect of the loss suffered by the authority.
However, a senior management officials told SHIPS & PORTS that NPA has not received any compensation from its insurers to date, while none of those arrested in connection with the arson and destruction has been charged to court yet.
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