Police, soldiers in Abakaliki showdown

Men of the Nigerian police
 War in Abakaliki: above, Nigerian policemen

By Chukwuemeka Opara/Abakaliki

What could have been a  bloody showdown between policemen and soldiers in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state, was quickly nipped in the bud on Saturday.

A witness told NAN that the incident occurred at No. 1 Water Works road Abakaliki.

“Trouble started when a police patrol team on road check, requested for the identity cards and vehicle particulars of army officers from the Nkwagu military cantonment.

“The soldiers rode a tinted Toyota Camry car with registration number BWR 886 AE and a black Toyota Jeep with the inscription of ‘Bride’ used to convey a newly wed couple.

“The soldiers who were on their uniforms except one personnel, told the police team they were returning from a wedding and felt embarrassed by their request for the documents.

“At this point, one of the police officers stopped the soldiers from passing and the latter angrily fired sporadically into the air,” he said.

According to the witness, who is a security agent, the police officers called the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) on phone and immediately they stormed the scene, one of them slapped a soldier.

“The clash subsequently ensued and the police who had the upper hand, took some of the soldiers to the command’s headquarters while confiscating their rifles.

“The soldiers who escaped from the scene, rushed to the cantonment and on their way, allegedly attacked some policemen near the cantonment and held them hostage,” the security agent told NAN.

The eye witness also noted that one of the police officers held by the soldiers was released and he quickly rushed to the command to report that some officers were being held at the cantonment.

“This development almost affected the peace moves made by both security agencies but the situation eventually normalised following intervention by top echelon of both agencies,” it added.

The Ebonyi Police Command has confirmed the clash between its officers and soldiers from the Nigerian Army Cantonment, Nkwagu near Abakaliki on Saturday evening.

DSP George Okafor, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, saying that the matter has been resolved amicably.

According to him, the clash was unfortunate and efforts have been made by the two agencies to forestall such occurrences in future.

“The matter has been peacefully resolved and we urge the public not to panic over the development but be assured of their safety at all times,” he said.

Okafor, who declined further comments on the issue, also failed to confirm whether police officers involved in the clash sustained injuries.

 

 

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