The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria Police have differed over a clash that led to sporadic gunshots fired at the NSCDC office on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the incident left many residents and motorists scampering for safety.
Addressing newsmen on the development, the NSCDC Commandant in the state, Mr Michael Ogar, alleged that the incident was an attack on him and officers of the corps by the Nigeria Police.
Ogar said the incident was in connection with an earlier detained man, Nonso Ezenwanne, who claimed to be a policeman, but with multiple identification cards.
He explained that his personnel had an altercation with Ezenwanne, following the disruption of his motorcade while returning from the scene of an inferno at an illegal oil bunkering site in the state on Sunday.
“As if that was not enough, he trailed us to Owerri and blocked my motorcade again, and brought out a pistol threatening to shoot us. but he was later disarmed and arrested.
“I had reached out to the former Acting Commissioner of Police, DCP Giwa, to identify the suspect which is the norm, but yielded no result as he said he had been transferred to Kaduna, and we could not find anybody to identify him.
“It was on my way to see MOPOL 18 Commander, just about 10 meters away from the NSCDC office, I saw eight vehicles that blocked me and started shooting into the air.
“They dragged me out, flogged and bartered me, and later took me to their command where they continued to beat me with sticks and batons,” the Commandant claimed.
He said after about three hours, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of Operations, later came to his rescue and took him home.
“I came back to my office to see the extent of damage, that was when I found out that two of my personnel got bullet injuries and were receiving treatment in the hospital.
While noting that his official car and some exhibits parked around the office vicinity were damaged, he added that the attackers also made away with his phones, pistol and an AK 47.
“They accepted that the items were in their custody and that the matter will be resolved today.
“I told them that this incident is a disgrace to security agencies; I was surprised. I do not think we are here to flex muscles or pursue work ego, but to defend our fatherland.
“I was highly disappointed and embarrassed by the action of MOPOL 18,” Ogar said, adding that the detained man was also whisked away by the attackers during the incident.
However, in a statement signed by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Mike Abattam on Tuesday, he described the incident as an “unlawful arrest and detention/serious assault occasioning harm on a police superintendent by the NSCDC personnel.”
Abattam said Ezenwanne, a Mobile Police officer and the Armament Officer of No. 18 Mobile Police Force, Owerri, was driving to Imo Police Command Headquarters on an assignment, but encountered a traffic jam.
He said: “While the officer was trying to make way for himself, the Civil Defence Personnel appeared from the rear, hit the Police officer’s vehicle violently, shouting and ordering him to remove his vehicle from the road.
“He replied the civil defence officer that he was equally trying to see how he could get out of the traffic, only for the officer to slap him hard on his face, calling him a stupid man.
“At that point he alighted from his vehicle and introduced himself as a Police Superintendent serving at Police Mobil Base, Owerri.
“It was as if he angered him the most, he gave him another slap and others joined in beating him.
“The police officer then brought out his phone to call his commanding officer, but they seized the phone, rushed into their vehicle and zoomed off,” Abattam also alleged.
He said the police officer managed to follow them to their office to demand for his phone, but his request was turned down and he was instead locked up in a cell after seizing his service pistol.
“Because of his sensitive office, his disappearance became alarming to every office in the base and it became a suspected case of kidnapping.
“Hence, a search party was organised, and when all efforts to trace his whereabouts proved abortive, his phone was tracked and it led the team to the civil defence headquarters, Owerri.
“On arrival, the team of Policemen made inquiries to confirm if there was any Police officer in their custody, but they became hostile, ordering the Police officers to leave or they will shoot them.
“When the Police insisted, they started shooting into the air,” he said.
SOURCE: LAGOS HERALD