Three killed after navy, police officers’ clash in Calabar
Two policemen and a naval rating lost their lives on Tuesday night in Calabar, after some suspected naval officers attacked a police station in the capital city of Cross River State.
Trouble started around 5:00p.m. on Tuesday when police traffic controllers attempted to stop some naval officers who flouted the red light at a point near the Calabar Township.
While some eyewitnesses said the naval officers not only ignored the policemen but also beat them up, others told newsmen that trouble started when the unidentified naval rating was shot in the left shoulder by policeman over the traffic offence.
The situation later degenerated as a section of the Akim Police Station, which is located along the busy IBB Way, was burnt by some naval personnel, while two vehicles were also set ablaze.
Two policemen identified as Sergeant Odudu and Corporal Emmanuel Mbang were shot dead at close range while a third policeman simply identified as Ibiam was shot in the left eye.
An eyewitness, Samson Inok, said at least three naval operatives emerged from a nearby gutter and shot the policemen who were trying to escape from the station.
“The navy operatives came out from the gutter and started shooting at a very close range with their guns while a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) which was mounted some distance away was firing at the station. This is not an ordinary gun that they use for this kind of small clash. They were running for safety thinking that the naval men were far away,” he said.
“We confirmed three bodies but we feared there are more,” the witness added, accusing the naval officers of blocking fire fighters from extinguishing the inferno set at the police station.
Governor Ben Ayade yesterday hastily convened an emergency meeting with representatives of the Nigerian Navy and police to address the deadly clash between the two security agencies.
At the meeting, Ayade said the violence had been neutralized. He condoled with the two agencies and promised adequate compensation for victims. “I want to assure Cross River residents and Nigerians that the whole area is calm after the unfortunate incident,” he told reporters after emerging from the meeting.
Salihu Jubril, Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, expressed deep regrets over the incident and vowed tough sanctions on errant officers. “Let me assure you that the culprits will be brought to book, properly investigated and appropriate sanctions meted on them,” Mr. Jubril, a commodore, said.
The Commissioner of Police in Cross Rivers, Hafiz Inuwa, said the development, though unfortunate, would not affect navy-police relationship going forward.
Despite the assurances of the state government to calm frayed nerves, it was gathered that the situation around the area was tense on Wednesday as residents stayed indoors while awaiting further development.