LCCI seeks compensation, compassion for looted businesses indebted to banks
• Expresses worry about the potential loss of jobs
Grieved by the loss of lives, property, and livelihoods triggered by recent peaceful EndSARS protests, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), has urged banks to be compassionate to looted businesses that are indebted to them.
Similarly, the Chamber asked for adequate compensation for such businesses, considering that many were just recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chamber’s President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, yesterday, also urged the Federal Government to come to the aid of the Lagos State Government to rebuild the large number of assets that were destroyed by the hoodlums that hijacked the protest.
She added that the move has become necessary in view of the current challenging economic conditions that the state was already grappling with.
“We urged that as corporate and individual citizens, this is the time to demonstrate our culture of compassion in being our brother’s keeper by supporting, in our various ways, the victims of this unfortunate incident,” she said.
Mabogunje equally expressed worries about the potential loss of jobs in the private sector as a result of the impact of the looting on many businesses.
Already, many businesses are struggling to repay their loans to banks owing to the impact of COVID-19.
For businesses with insurance, underwriters are already overwhelmed with the impact of COVID-19 and would have to increase their premium for 2021 due to insecurity concerns in Nigeria.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that the risk of sovereign default is growing across Africa because of higher debt levels and currency risk. At the same time, reduced demand and lower commodity prices have pushed some African countries, particularly those reliant on the export of oil and metals, into deep recessions.
This financial pressure, according to the IMF, is also increased by lower financial inflows, as investors postpone their spending and official development aid is limited.
Without adequate compensation, operators had noted that many businesses might not recover while unemployment is expected to rise further.
The LCCI said: “We bemoan the unprecedented levels of destruction, plundering, arson, looting and vandalism that took place, which even with the caution that we expressed in our press statement on Monday the 19th of October, we could not have imagined. This is one of the darkest moments in our recent history.”
It also empathised with all the families who lost their loved ones, during and in the aftermath of the protests as well as all investors: micro, small, medium, and large that suffered losses as a result of the arson, looting, and destruction of their valuable fixed and moveable assets.
The Chamber added, “We share the grave concern of employees who are at the risk of losing their jobs as a result of these deplorable and debilitating incidents. We empathise with the Lagos State Government over the wanton destruction of public properties around the state.
“We also empathise with the Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and the entire indigenes of the state over the regrettable desecration of an important and treasured symbol of Lagos heritage, culture, and tradition.”
The Chamber reiterated the imperative of peace, dialogue, and engagement as major ingredients for social and economic stability that will enable a conducive environment for investments and the prosperity of businesses.
“We need to embed in the governance process the norms and ideals of the democratic process: rule of law, transparency and accountability in political governance, and citizen engagement, among others.
“We note the setting up of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry in various states to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident with a view to avoiding a repeat of such occurrences in the future. We urge all citizens that may have suffered from all forms of police brutality and injustice to cooperate with the Lagos State Government to bring about restitution and some form of closure on these very unfortunate incidents. We believe there are lessons to be learned by all concerned – protesters, the government, security agencies, and citizens,” the LCCI added.