Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has assured all port users and other stakeholders that port operations and other related services have continued seamlessly after the attack by hoodlums on its headquarters’ building as well as the administrative building at the Tin-Can Island Port during the nationwide #ENDSARS protest.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on Sunday after the tour of the building that was destroyed by fire, Usman said that NPA networks and systems have remained functional because within two days after the attack, the authority was able to resume operations.
According to her, the NPA was also able to ensure that all critical documents and financing as well as payment systems were protected, and not affected in anywhere within 24 hours of the attack.
“Indeed, the whole building has been tampered with and it requires a lot of work in terms of cleaning and determining the level of destruction before our personnel can resume work as soon as possible. Our staff is going round to see how we can reclaim some of our assets that were looted. There is an ongoing integrity test on the area that was burnt to determine how safe it is for our personnel to even go to the other wing of the building because they are linked,” she said.
While stating that all NPA’s assets are duly insured as required, she said that they are still in the process of determining the level and value of destruction on the building before claiming the insurance.
Giving insight into the attack, Usman said the Tin-Can Island Port was attacked on Tuesday October 20th 2020 when hoodlums made an attempt to forcefully gain access into the port, attacked the administrative building and set ablaze a truck which was evacuating cargo.
“It took the combined effort of officers of the port authority police, the police mobile force and the Nigerian Customs Service to repel the attack. The attackers at the headquarters numbering over 300 persons, gained access into the premises at 8:42am on Wednesday October 21st 2020 from the outer Broad Street wing brandishing daggers, sticks and cutlasses. After attacking, disarming and chasing the security personnel on duty out of the headquarters premises, the attackers proceeded to burn and vandalise several vehicles belonging to the Authority and some members of staff. They thereafter set a wing of the office building on fire,” she explained.
Upon knowledge of the attack, she said, officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces were invited and deployed to the premises and they successfully dispersed the hoodlums and reclaimed possession of the premises following which the Authority’s firemen were able to gain access into the building and put out the raging fire.
“After an assessment of the extent of damage, it was discovered that apart from the annex wing that was burnt, many offices were vandalised, while computers, printers, water dispensers and other electronic devices were looted. A total of 27 vehicles, including cars, utility vehicles, pick up vans and staff buses were set on fire, while 33 other vehicles, 22 of which belong to members of staff were vandalised. A Toyota Prado SUV, a Bajaj Motorcycle and one Hilux patrol van were also stolen from the premises,” she said.
Usman however disclosed that the military deployed to the NPA were able to apprehend about six of the hoodlums who are presently in custodian of the Nigerian Navy, adding that interrogation as well as prosecution would be done within the necessary judicial provisions.
Noting that in Calabar, people tried to go round the port area, the NPA boss assured that the authority has ensured the deployment of military personnel to all port locations for security purposes going forward.