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Soldiers, Policemen At War In Aba

Source: pointblanknews.com

Hell was let loose on Monday evening in Aba, Abia state as more than fifty

soldiers invaded the Aba Area Command of the Police threatening to burn

down the station if they did not produce a policeman who allegedly slapped

their colleague.
 
Trouble started when a policeman in company of his pregnant wife who is

also a police officer, rammed their Mercedes Benz car into another car

driven by a man in mufti later identified as Captain Abubakar who was also

in company of his colleague.
 
According to eyewitness accounts, the soldiers got out of their car

demanding to know why the policeman hit their car. The situation was said

to have led to an exchange of words between both parties with one of the

soldiers landing a slap on the policemen.
 
Angered by the action, the policeman returned the slap while the soldier

pulled a gun threatening to shoot but was held back by the wife of the

policeman who insisted that they be shot together.

 
The exchange which held up traffic at the Jubilee road junction near the

old site of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital(ABSUTH), a

shouting distance from the Aba Area Command, attracted some policemen who

ran back to inform their colleague about the development.

 
Another group of Policemen converged at the scene pleading with the

soldiers to let go of the incident since both parties should work

together. But unknown to them, one of the soldiers had contacted their

colleagues who stormed with area with an Armoured personnel Carrier

(APC)and five Hilux jeeps.
On arriving at the gate of the Aba Area Command, the angry soldiers

started beating anyone they on sight, including policemen. Even shop

owners and passersby were not spared as they were horse whipped.

 
The policemen who ran for cover were said to have been embarrassed when

their colleague simply identified as DSP Rotimi was stabbed on his head

and hands. The policemen ran into the Area Command and brought out guns

even as another Hilux jeep filled with soldiers landed at the area.

Rotimi was said to be discussing with an Army captain on how to settle the

matter when a soldier pulled a dagger and stabbed his hand and head.

 
The situation further enraged policemen who also brought out their own

APC, blocked the gate of their premises and started shooting tear gas.

Some of them went into the premises and returned with guns, threatening to

return fire for fire.
 
The incident which lasted more than two hours would have degenerated but

for the intervention of the Aba Area Commander, ACP Tunde Mobayo who

rushed back to the Command to douse the situation. Sources hinted that the

erstwhile Area Commander in Aba, ACP Rabiu Dayi who is on transfer to Edo

state Command was contacted to help douse the situation. Dayi was said to

have contacted some of the soldiers he worked with at Aba, some of whom

expressed surprise that he didn't inform them that he has gone on

transfer.
 
A policeman who spoke on the condition of anonymity told

Pointblanknews.com that one of the irate soldiers almost attacked the Area

Commander who was on mufti, but was stopped by his colleague who

identified the former.
 
Sources said a senior police officer also contacted one Major Bello who

serves as the head of the Army Unit at Ngwa road, Aba who also stormed the

scene and pulled out his men who threatened to burn down the offices of

the Aba Area Command unless they produce the officer who slapped their

colleague.
 
“We are not happy that soldiers will attack us at every opportunity, even

when their colleague was the wrong party. How can they attack us at our

office every time? We refused to be intimidated, that is why we stood up

to them. It would have been deaths on both sides if they crossed our

gate,” a cross section of MOPOL men told Pointblanknews.com

 
When the fracas died down, not less than 2 policemen and 5 shop owners and

passersby sustained injuries inflicted on them by soldiers.

 
According to one of the injured shop owners, a patent medicine dealer, “I

was attending to a customer when soldiers came into my shop, asked me what

I was doing there and used their horse whip on me. I ran away. Even Keke

riders and other people who were going through Hospital road at that time

were beaten mercilessly. They even collected our money, everybody closed

shop and ran away”
 
As at the time of filing this report, the injured policemen were said to

have been invited to the office of the state Commissioner of Police,

Alhaji Usman Tilli Abubakar at Umuahia, the state capital.

 
Abia Police spokesman, ASP Ogbonna Geoffrey who described the incident as

unfortunate, added that it has been resolved as the two agencies will

continue to work together to maintain law and order in the state.