By Dapo Akinrefon
Chairman, Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Chief Akin Ricketts, yesterday, condemned the burning of the agency’s headquarters in Marina, Lagos State by hoodlums, allegedly in the name of EndSARS protesters.
The NPA headquarters was set on fire by #EndSARS protesters on Wednesday.
It was reported that the hoodlums stormed the facility with dangerous weapons, petrol, used vehicle tyres, and lighters to carry out their dastardly act, according to an eyewitness.
However, Chief Ricketts, in a statement, said while the youths have the rights to protest, it has become obvious that the peaceful protest has been hijacked by criminal elements.
He cautioned that the destruction of a critical facility such as the NPA will affect the economic activities of the ports, saying as a largely import-dependent nation the port was a critical aspect of the nation’s economy.
He stated that negative development will further degrade the country in the eyes of the international communities.
The NPA boss stated that the Federal Government has made a firm committed to addressing the issues of police brutality and good governance which was what the EndSARS protests seek to achieve, urging the youth to embrace dialogue as an option instead of taking to the destruction of critical government institutions, such as the NPA.
Ricketts said: “We strongly condemn this act of burning the Marina headquarters of the NPA. The NPA plays a critical role as a Federal Government’s parastatals in the maritime industry.
“The NPA belongs to all Nigerians and as an import-dependent nation, it is the port that feeds the whole nation. If they start pulling down critical structures of this nature where do they expect the government to get the funds to meet their demands?
“We agree that the youth have their rights to protest but they should also see the need for dialogue. They should also note that the protest has been hijacked by criminal elements. The Federal Government has said they are going to attend to some of their demands, we are appealing to them to give a chance to the government.
“We appeal to them not to allow hoodlums and criminal elements highjack the peaceful protest as intended as the Federal Government is equally understanding. Let’s all give peace a chance.”