The chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Akin Ricketts, on Monday condemned the wanton of destruction and looting of public and private properties under the guise of #EndSARS protest in Calabar, Cross River State.
Ricketts, who condemned the level of destruction, blamed the development on criminal elements who reportedly hijacked the peaceful protest to cause havoc and pains to the people of the state.
Properties belonging to agencies of the state and federal government, banks, hotels, police stations, health institutions, shops, and homes of some prominent political figures, among others in the state were vandalised by hoodlums between Friday and Saturday last week.
He noted that while the youth have the rights to protest, the hijack of the hitherto peaceful protests by criminal elements was unacceptable and should be condemned in its entirety.
Chief Ricketts, a former Commissioner for Information in the state under the administration of ex-Governor Liyel Imoke, made the condemnation in a statement issued on Monday in Calabar.
The NPA chairman said governments at different levels are beginning to make firm commitments to address the issues of police brutality and good governance which was what the #EndSARS protests sought to achieve.
He, therefore, charged the Cross River youth to embrace dialogue as an option and to challenge hoodlums that took to the destruction of public and private infrastructure.
The NPA chairman said as a concerned Cross Riverian, stakeholders needed to rally round support for the state and mobilise to put a stop to such destruction of public and private properties in Calabar, which is known for its hospitality.
Chief Ricketts said, “It was unfortunate that some hoodlums in Calabar took turns to visit homes of prominent political leaders and stakeholders as well as premises of public and private businesses to unleash unwarranted attacks on and steal valuable items from them. That was not what the original EndSARS protesters were clamouring for.
“The Federal Government has made a firm commitment to addressing the issues of police brutality and good governance which was what the EndSARS protests sought to achieve. If they start pulling down critical structures of this nature where do we then expect the government to get the funds to meet their demands and the eventual expected reconstruction? The youths should embrace dialogue as an option instead of taking to the destruction of critical government institutions and private properties.”
“At this point in our trajectory, our youths and all other critical stakeholders in Cross River state should rise to this occasion and mobilise to put a stop to the reoccurrence of all forms of social vices in our state. We need the support of everyone to do this and we should encourage the government to succeed.”
The former information commissioner promised to liaise with critical stakeholders in state to address the issues raised by the youth in Cross River, adding that he was sad of the turnout of events in the state.
“I will endeavour in my capacity as chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority to liaise with the state government, former Governors, National Assembly members and Ministers past and present to create an atmosphere of dialogue to address most of the issues raised by the youths. My heart bled at the wanton destruction,” he said.