Navy Tackles Police Over Alleged Assault On Delta Hotel

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BEVERLY HILLS, February 05, (THEWILL) - The alleged assault, last weekend, by some personnel of the Nigerian Naval Ship, NNS Delta, on Kayriott Hotel along Refinery Road, Effurun, near Warri, has triggered off a verbal war between the Navy and Police in the state.

This followed a petition by a human rights activist, Oghenejabor Ikimi, urging the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin, to investigate and bring to book the Navy personnel involved in the act in which a mobile policeman, identified as Sgt Samson Ofoyeju, and one other were brutally assaulted .

The Navy personnel had allegedly invaded the hotel after one of their men ran into trouble over his failure to pay his full bill after a drinking and eating spree at the hotel pool bar.

The attempt by the hotel's waitress to collect the money from the Navy officer infuriated the officer who descended on her.

The officer who was with his female acquaintance, was said to have claimed that he had settled his bill but when he could not provide his receipt, he got infuriated and pounced on the helpless waitress.

An attempt by mobile policemen who were called to quell the row only added salt to the injury as more naval officers invaded the hotel, allegedly beating up the police officers and in the process destroyed properties worth millions of naira.

But the Navy have since denied the report which alleged that some naval personnel shot sporadically at the hotel and arrested some staff of the hotel including the proprietor, Efe Afe, a former lawmaker.

The Commanding Officer,NNS Delta, Commodore Garba Mohammed, said the report of highhandedness by his men was capable of undermining the collaborative efforts of the security agencies at fighting crime in the state.

"The Navy wishes to inform the general public that at no time did its personnel, shoot and abducted three staff of Kayriott Hotel.

"The incident that happened at Kayriott Hotel is still under investigation and it was a case of assaulting a commissioned Naval Officer which necessitated admission in the hospital .

"The hotel staff were invited to write statements on the incident voluntarily and allowed to return to their business afterwards.

"The Navy returned to the hotel for further investigation by demanding the recordings of the CCTV footage of the unfortunate incident which the hotel management misconstrued.

"The Navy wishes to notify the general public that the issue of abduction and assault never happened.

The Navy is resolved to synergise with other agencies with a view to fighting criminal citieswithin Warri and environs," he said.

But the Delta State Police Command has described as height of falsehood attempt by the Navy to cover up the incident which occurred Thursday 4 at Kayriott Hotel, Effurun.

In a statement signed by the State Commissioner of Police, Ikechukwu Aduba and made available to TheWILL, the Police Command described the action of the naval officer as a "criminal act," saying the only option left for the Navy authority is to hand over the erring officer for police investigation and prosecution.

While giving a graphic details of its own side of the story, the police said the two policemen on guard duty at the hotel, fully dressed in service uniform, were over-powered by the Naval personnel who stormed the premises of the hotel in a commando-like manner; disarmed the police personnel, battered them to stupor, before abducting them together with some officials of the hotel to the Naval Base.

"That from the investigation so far conducted, the bone of contention behind this unholy act and a seemingly recurring decimal of occurrence between the Navy and the Police in the State is the payment of N9, 000.

00 for pepper soup and alcoholic beverages consumed by the man who was later identified as a Naval officer and two of his friends at the hotel, whereupon an argument ensued between the said Naval officer on civil outfit and the hotel receptionist over the non-payment of the said N9,000.

00 for services delivered, in the course of which the Naval officer slapped the receptionist causing her ears to ooze blood.

"Naturally, the Police personnel officially posted on guard duty at the hotel intervened and intended to take the matter down to the nearest police station, wherein the said Naval officer called for armed re-enforcement and two Hilux load of Naval ratings stormed the hotel premises, firing indiscriminately and destroyed some valuable materials which include the hotel's automated entrance door; abducted the police officers on legitimate duty and some of the hotel personnel to the Naval Base.

"That the news of the incident was received by the Police Command in the course of the Command's end of the month Officers' Meeting at Asaba and the Command CP quickly got in touch with the Commanding Officer of NNS Delta, who regrettably attempted to put up a defense to the effect that his personnel was fired at by the Police personnel on duty at the hotel which would have been fatal, but for the bullet proof jacket being donned by the Naval Officer.

A defense that is completely at variance with the facts of the case as adumbrated above.

"We want to state clearly that the Police Force still remains the symbol of Government and no profession has the act of lawlessness as part of its ethics, hence we strongly submit that the act of carrying two Hilux load of Naval personnel - not for the purpose of storming/fighting our common enemies - the criminals, but rather for the purpose of overpowering fellow uniformed security personnel on legitimate duty which has occurred several times in Delta State will certainly not augur well for the good governance of our country which is the primary purpose of Government.

"In the light of the foregoing, we want to state clearly, that the actions of the Naval officer hinges on the realm of criminality and the only option left to the Naval authority is to hand over the erring Naval officer to the police for investigation and prosecution," the police said in the statement.