NPA FIRE DIDN’T DESTROY CRITICAL INFORMATION, DOCUMENTS, SAYS BALA-USMAN

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman, has stated that though the damage done to the authority’s Marina head office in Lagos was enormous, it didn’t destroy critical information and important documents. Bala-Usman stated that the damage has not affected the smooth operations of the NPA, adding, however, that it will take years to fix the facilities burnt, given the financial situation of the country. She said the arsonists originally targeted the port locations in Apapa, Calabar and Tincan Island revealing that it took the combined efforts of the military and other security agencies to repel them. Bala-Usman spoke yesterday in Lagos while conducting journalists around the damaged sections of the NPA head office. She added that a total of 27 vehicles, including cars, utility vehicles, pick-up vans and staff buses were torched while 33 other vehicles, 22 of which belong to members of staff, were vandalised. “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 Toyota Prado SUV, a Bajaj motorcycle and one Hilux patrol van were also stolen from the premises. “All assets of the authority are comprehensively insured and insurers are currently undergoing an assessment of the damages,” she said.

Describing how the event happened, she said: “The attack on the Tincan Island Port commenced at 9:45 am on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. The hoodlums made an attempt to forcibly 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 (NCS) to repel the attack. She said: “The attackers at the headquarters, numbering over 300 persons, gained access into the premises at 8:42 am on Wednesday October 21, 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. Upon knowledge of the attack, officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces were invited and deployed in the premises. 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.”

The management of the NPA, she added, is particularly grateful that no life was lost in the incident. Bala-Usman stated: “This is in spite of the fact that some members of staff who were on critical duties were in the building at the time of the attack. The authority recognises the gallantry of men of the Nigerian Armed Forces and our firemen whose intervention restored normalcy. “We also appreciate the concerns of all stakeholders and citizens who have reached out with kind words of support and encouragement. “All stakeholders and the general public are hereby assured that the situation has not affected operations of the authority in any way as we have continued to render our services unhindered.”

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