Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Troops stormed the railway police station, Umuahia in the Abia State capital Monday and whisked away the divisional police officer (DPO) and another policemen after raining blows on them following the arrest of an army captain for parking his bus at an unauthorised place close to the station.
Trouble started at about 11 am when the DPO, who just assumed duty last Thursday was driving to his office and saw a bus parked close to the station and alighted from his jeep.
As he was fuming, the owner of the bus emerged and opted to remove his vehicle but the DPO rejected all entreaties and ordered his men to arrest him.
It was then that the bus owner identified himself as an army captain (in mufti), a revelation that obviously compounded his case, as the DPO got angrier.
“If you are any army captain how many wars have you fought? I have fought in three Boko Haram states and you are resisting my arrest order,” the DPO barked out.
The altercation drew a large crowd of onlookers as two police officers struggled to drag the resisting army officer to the police station to no avail. As the melee continued, the soldier’s clothes were torn in the process.
However, the crowd, which was obviously enjoying the altercation, scampered to safety when one of the policemen bearing a firearm fired a shot into the air to subdue the army officer.
At this point, shop owners hurriedly started closing up to avoid stray bullets. Indeed the railway policemen went berserk and pounced on shop owners, impounded the army officer’s car, and gave him the beating of his life.
When the army officer eventually agreed to enter the police station, a lady who knew him and had pleaded with the policemen to let him go was seen making a phone call which turned out to be an S.O.S to his colleagues in the army.
One by one army patrol vans arrived at the scene of the melee from different directions. The first patrol van arrived with four soldiers, who made straight for the police station and were seen remonstrating with the DPO.
But by the time the third and fourth patrol vans arrived, more troops poured into the scene increasing their number to 20. The atmosphere was intensely charged, following which the ordeal of the policemen started.
The army officers descended on the DPO and his junior colleagues beating them black and blue before bundling them into vans and drove away to an unknown destination.
The only policeman left in the station had resisted every effort by some of the soldiers to disarm him. Even when he was beaten up, he still held on to his firearm.
Less than five minutes after the army made away with the arrested policemen, three police patrol vans from the Central Police Station (CPS), Umuahia, arrived at the scene but it was too late to save their colleagues.