Concise News correspondents
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 of the soldiers. The policemen also requested for the particulars of the vehicle the army officers from the Nkwagu military cantonment were riding in.
“The soldiers rode in a tinted Toyota Camry car with registration number BWR 886 AE and a black Toyota Jeep with the inscription of ‘Bride’ indicating it was used to convey a newly-wedded couple.
“The soldiers wore their uniforms except for one personnel. They told the police team they were returning from a wedding. They also said that they felt embarrassed by the policemen’s request for their vehicle’s documents.
“At this point, one of the police officers stopped the soldiers from passing. The latter angrily fired sporadically into the air,” he said.
According to the witness who is also a security agent, the police officers called the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) on phone. One of the anti-robbery personnel slapped a soldier immediately they stormed the scene.
“A 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. On their way, they allegedly attacked some policemen near the cantonment and held them hostage,” the security agent told NAN.
The eye witness also noted that the soldiers released one of the police officers held captive. The freed policeman quickly rushed to the police command to make reports.
“This development almost affected the peace moves made by both security agencies but the situation eventually normalized following intervention by top echelon of both agencies,” it added.
Ebonyi Police command confirms the fracas
The Ebonyi Command has confirmed the clash between its officers and soldiers from the Nigerian Army Cantonment.
DSP George Okafor, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday. He also says that they have resolved the matter amicably.
According to him, the clash was unfortunate. Therefore, the two agencies are making efforts to forestall such occurrences in future.
“We have peacefully resolved the matter and further urge the public not to panic over the development. We assure the public of their safety at all times,” he said.
At this point Okafor declined further comments on the issue. He also refused to confirm whether police officers involved in the clash sustained injuries.