From: JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
Normalcy has returned to Calabar, Cross River State, metropolis as Governor Ben Ayade has waded into the Navy and police crisis.
On Tuesday night, the personnel of the Nigerian Navy and the police engaged one another in a battle of supremacy between the hours of 7:00pm and 10:00pm.
Trouble was said to have started about 6:00p.m when a naval junior rating allegedly beat traffic light and was stopped by traffic wardens along IBB Way by Stadium axis for traffic offence.
On stopping, both the policemen on duty and the navy rating along IBB Way engaged in altercations, subsequently leading to shooting of the rating on the shoulder by a mobile police man who drove in to rescue his colleagues.
It was learnt that the navy rating ran to the barracks to complain and on sighting one of their colleagues in blood, his colleagues quickly mobilised for a reprisal attack, leading to sporadic shooting and burning of a section of Akim police station and a pick up van.
Eyewitness said the naval rating passed through the big drainage system along Navy-Police Barracks to invade the Akim police station as well as destroyed the police post along Murtala Mohammed Highway opposite stadium.
Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that about two policemen including Sgt Odudu and Cprl Emma Mbang are feared while one Ibiam is critically lying ill at the police clinic.
Addressing newsmen shortly after security meeting in Government House, Calabar, on Wednesday, Governor Ayade, urged the citizenry to go about their legitimate businesses as normalcy has return to the affected area.
According to Ayade, “I just met with all the service commanders on the incident that happened 18:00 hours yesterday in a security council meeting to reassure residents, the citizenry and indeed Nigerians that the whole area is calm after the unfortunate incident that arouse from the misunderstanding between the officers, one from the police Force and a Naval officer.”
“However, the senior officers were quiet proactive by intervening fast to arrest early the situation and we are proud to announce to you that Calabar and indeed Cross River State is totally calm and peaceful already agog to receive the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo tomorrow.
“The unfortunate incident that arouse from an issue at a check point, traffic light spot at the stadium off IBB Road where a Police Officer was trying to control traffic that led to misunderstanding between himself a team of young Naval officers who were at that check point resulting to physical combat,” adding that “This has nothing to do with the conspiracy between the Nigerian Police and the Navy.”
Regretted the incident, he promised to take full responsibility for all the associated damages on both sides while urging officers and men operating in the state to see themselves as partners in progress at all times.
On his part the Commander, Nigerian Navy Victory command, Commodore Salihu Jubril, said “We are sadden by the incident that happened yesterday however, very delighted to tell you that normalcy has returned. The incident only affected a portion of IBB not the entire metropolis and we are fully on ground to prevent possible escalation.”
“Let me assure you that the culprits will be brought to book, properly investigated and appropriate sanctions meted on them and promised adequate protection of lives and property of the citizenry within the domain.”
Also speaking, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Inuwa Hafiz, said the fracas has nothing to do with the relationship between the Police and Navy, adding that it was just a misunderstanding amongst our junior officers that led to the incident which we quickly step in to address.
According to him, “We are glad to announce to the populace that, Calabar and the entire state is calm and our status as the safest state remains without a doubt. All the service commanders in the state are one and active partners in progress particularly on issues of security and protection of lives and property of the citizenry.”
While allaying fears of possible escalation Hafiz explained that in life one cannot rule out such misunderstanding from time to time but we are more determined and ready to move above board in discharging our constitutional responsibilities.