The #EndSARS protest has come to end, or so it seems, leaving in its trail bloodbath, destruction, suffering and anguish. The peaceful protest, which in some locations had been laced with fun and admirable displays of love and togetherness, suddenly turned violent when gunpowder was poured into it.
After the gunpowder was fired into the protest at the Lekki tollgate bringing down some protesters, fury took over the youths all over the country. Hoodlums and even organized groups also hijacked the protest leading to the mayhem and unprecedented destruction the nation has just witnessed.
One of the areas the #EndSARS protest was hijacked was in the maritime sector where clearing agents, truck drivers and some port industry workers latched onto the protest to paralyse activities at the Lagos and Tin Can Island Ports. They seized the opportunity to protest against years of extortion by Customs, police and other law enforcement agents.
Like the #EndSARS protesters, the clearing agents and truck drivers demanded an end to continued harassment and extortion by police and other security operatives.
They staged their protest at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Tin Can Island Port and in front of Eleganza Plaza on Wharf Road, Apapa. They blocked the entrance of the ports, stopping all vehicular and human movement. This left so many port users stranded and exposed to terrible suffering.
At the Tin Can Port gate, the protest turned violent as the hoodlums joined the protest and started throwing stones and dangerous objects, injuring many people and killing one person.
According to the Abubakar Bello, Tin Can Island Port Manager, the hoodlums invaded the port, throwing stones and destroying valuables in the process.
“I can confirm that one person was killed in the protest. I have just seen the corpse. Some hoodlums invaded the port and they were throwing stones. They vandalized some doors and windows and so many of our security posts and gates were affected,” he told SHIPS & PORTS.
The protesters said they were not only demanding an end to police extortion, but also the scrapping of the anti-smuggling unit of the Nigeria Customs Service, the dreaded Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Customs Police and the monitoring unit created by Tin Can Customs Command.
According to one of the protesters, Thompson Olajide, who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS, “Part of our demands is an end to FOU, Strike Force and the monitoring team created by the Controller of the Tin Can Island Command. You collect value for a vehicle from the valuation unit, you go ahead and make the payment, yet someone else will issue another Debit Note (DN) that what valuation unit gave you is not proper. That is why we are calling for the scrapping of the monitoring seat. It is not just about police brutality alone.”
However, unlike the #EndSARS protesters, the protest by the clearing agents and truck drivers was spontaneous and manifestly unorganised. Their grievances were not directed to anybody in particular for attention. It seemed the protest was not really organised to produce result, but only for the protesters to be seen to be part of the week of rage and protest. Unfortunately, the protest claimed a life with several people injured.
Elsewhere in the port sector, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) headquarters in Marina was torched by suspected hoodlums who had hijThe #EndSARS protest has come to end, or so it seems, leaving in its trail bloodbath, destruction, suffering and anguish. The peaceful protest, which in some locations had been laced with fun and admirable displays of love and togetherness, suddenly turned violent when gunpowder was poured into it. acked the #EndSARS protest. The hoodlums, and some protesters that turned ‘hoodlums’ targeted government establishments, facilities and properties of politicians and well-placed members of the public in their destructions. And the magnificent NPA building was an easy target for them.
Though the inferno that erupted at the NPA headquarters was eventually brought under control, the damage done and the losses sustained are yet to be quantified.