The Ebonyi State Police Command has confirmed Saturday evening’s clash between its officers and soldiers from the Nigerian Army Cantonment at Nkwagu, near Abakaliki, the state capital.
Police spokesman George Okafor, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), confirmed this yesterday to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki.
But Okafor said the matter had been resolved amicably.
According to him, the clash was unfortunate and efforts have been made by the two agencies to forestall such occurrence in future.
Okafor said: “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.”
The spokesman, who declined further comments on the matter, also failed to confirm whether or not police officers involved in the clash sustained injuries.
An eyewitness, who spoke in confidence, told NAN that the incident occurred at 1, Water Works Road in Abakaliki.
He said: “Trouble started when a police patrol team on a 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 wedded couple.
“The soldiers, who were in their uniform – except one person, 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.”
The witness, who is a security agent, said the policemen called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on phone, adding that one of them slapped a soldier.
“The clash subsequently ensued and the policemen, who had the upper hand, took some of the soldiers to the command’s headquarters and confiscated 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 eyewitness said one of the policemen held by the soldiers was released and he rushed to the command to report that some officers were being held at the cantonment.
“This development almost affected the peace moves by both security agencies, but the situation eventually normalised following intervention by top echelon of both agencies,” the source added.
The Army authorities had not reacted to NAN enquiries or made public their reaction over the development. The Nation