The show of force between various security agencies in the country reared its ugly head again yesterday in Apapa area of Lagos State, weekend, when some armed naval personnel and policemen from Area B Police Command clashed.
Two policemen allegedly sustained injuries, police patrol vehicles and an Armoured Personnel Carriers, APC, were allegedly destroyed in the process.
The incident reportedly occurred last Friday when a team of policemen attached to the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences, accosted two naval ratings on a motorcycle riding against traffic at Trebor Roundabout and allegedly impounded their motorcycle.
The angry naval ratings infuriated by the effontery of men of the task force went back to their base to reinforce only to get to the Trebor Roundabout to discover the officials had left. The aggrieved naval personnel allegedly descended on a team of policemen attached to the Rapid Respond Squad, RRS, manning an APC stationed at the Roundabout.
Eyewitness accounts say the the policemen in the APC upon sensing danger, made a frantic bid to escape to Area B Command Headquarters but the naval personnel will not relent as they followed them there. In the process, a police inspector on duty at a new generation bank on Liverpool Road, was attacked and beaten mercilessly while his rifle was seized from him.
It took the last minute intervention of the Area Commander, Ali Mohammed, who contacted the naval authorities for help, to halt the situation from getting out of hand but not before the windscreens of some patrol vehicles were smashed and an APC was demobilized as its tyres were deflated.the naval personnel were also alleged to have shot indiscriminately into the air; a situation that sent residents and motorists around the area scampering for safety.
However, the Western Naval Command information officer, Jerry Omodara, tells a different story as he denied the Navy attacked the police area command office.
According to him, “What happened was that two naval ratings were on their way home on a motorbike after the close of work and policemen manning a check point at Point Road junction towards Liverpool stopped them. The ratings tried to explain that they were personnel closing from work and the policemen refused to let them go.
The scene where the incident occurred was close to the Hydrographic office of the Navy and a Rear Admiral who saw it happened sent a lieutenant to the scene.
The lieutenant pleaded with the policemen, but they refused to listen. The lieutenant then demanded that they all go to the Area B police Command Headquarters.”
“But on their way to the Command, an RRS patrol van approached and hijacked the situation. The RRS policemen opened fire on the Navy and snatched the motorbike from them.”