From George Onyejiuwa,Owerri
Residents of Owerri were thrown into pandemonium evening of Monday following a shoot-out between the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp Imo state command and the police officers.
The quick intervention of the military prevented the situation from deteriorating further.
This is just as the police and the NSCDC commands have accused each other of sparking off the face.
Addressing newsmen on the development, the state Commandant Michael Ogar said the attack was in connection with an earlier detained man, one Nonso Ezenwanne, who claimed to be a Policeman, but with multiple identification cards.
Ogar explained that his personnel had an altercation with Ezenwanne following the barricading of his motorcade while returning from the scene of inferno at an illegal oil bunkering site in the state on Sunday.
“As though, that wasn’t enough, he trailed us to Owerri and blocked my motorcade again and brought out a pistol threatening to shoot us but he was later disarmed and arrested.
“I had reached out to the former Acting Commissioner of Police, DCP Giwa, to identify the suspect which is the norm, but yielded no result as he said he had been transferred to Kaduna. We didn’t see anybody to identify him.
“It was on my way to see MOPOL 18 Commander, just about 10 meters away from NSCDC office, that I saw eight vehicles that blocked me and started shooting into the air and my vehicle.
“They dragged me out, flogged and bartered me, and later took me to their command where they continued to beat me with sticks and baton,” the Commandant said.
He said after about three hours, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of Operations later came to his rescue and took him home.
He further stated, I came back to my office to see the extent of damage caused and then realised that two of my personnel got bullet injuries and were receiving treatment in hospital
According to him, his official car and some exhibits parked around the office vicinity were damaged, adding that, the attackers also made away with his phones, pistol and an AK 47.
“They accepted that the items were in their custody and that the matter will be resolved today.
“I told them that this incident is a disgrace to security agencies; I was surprised. I don’t think we are here to flex muscles or pursue work ego but to defend our fatherland.
“I was highly disappointed and embarrassed by the action of MOPOL 18,” Ogar said, while noting that the detained man was also taken away by the attackers during the incident.
Also , NSCDC Head of Operations, Deputy Commandant Benjamin Nwaokafor, who was receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Center, Owerri, said that he only discovered himself in the hospital after the incident.
“I was shot in my hand and left leg. I can’t move them now,” he said, while grieving in pains.
But in a swift reaction , the Spokesman of the Imo state police command ,Mike Abbattam CSP dismissed the allegations of the NSCDC of the police being the aggressor.
The Imo Police Spokesman in statement Tuesday said: “the attention of the Imo State Police Command has been drawn to a news making rounds on social media captioned “Police Attack Civil Defence Personnel in Imo State”. It is most unfortunate that, some news media will publish stories without confirming same to ascertain the true facts of the story.
According to the statement, “The true facts of the incident that occurred on the 25/4/2022 at about 1630 hours, in the Civil Defense Corps Office, was that on 24/4/2022 at about 2010 hours, a Police Superintendent Ezenwanne Nonso, a Mobile Police Officer and the Armament Officer of No. 18 Mobile Police Force, Owerri, was driving in his car heading to Imo Police Command Headquarters on an assignment, on reaching Control Post Round About, there was a heavy traffic Jam, where drivers were trying to maneuver their vehicles to free themselves from the traffic. While the officer was trying to make way for himself, the Civil Defence Personnel who alighted from his rear, hit the Police Officer’s vehicle violently, shouting and ordering him to remove his vehicle from the road. He replied the Civil Defence Officer that he is equally trying to see how he can free himself from the traffic, only for the Civil Defence Officer to slap him hard on his face calling him a stupid man. At that point he alighted from his vehicle, introducing himself as a Police Superintendent serving at Police Mobil Base, Owerri. It was as if he angered him the more and he gave him another slap and others joined in beating him. The police officer then brought out his phone to put a call to his Commanding Officer but they seized the phone, rushed into their vehicle and zoomed off.
Continuing , ” The police officer had to manage and followed them to their office. On getting there, he demanded for his phone, but they refused rather they dragged him into their office, beat him up and seized his service pistol. After much torture, he was locked up in their cell not minding his plea to call his Commanding Officer. The officer slept in the cell till the next day.
For the sensitive office the officer is holding, his disappearance became alarming to every office in the Base and they were suspecting kidnapping. Hence, a search party was organized. When all efforts made to trace his whereabout proved abortive, his phone was tracked and the result led the team to the Civil Defence Headquarters Owerri.”
He further stated, ” on arrival, the team of Policemen made enquiries to confirm if there was any Police officer detained in their custody. The Civil Defence Personnel became hostile, ordering them to leave or they will shoot them. When the Police insisted, they started shooting into the air. The Mobile Police Officers sensing danger, professionally used minimal force to defend themselves by using teargas. Hence, the Civil Defence Personnel scampered for safety and in the process the Police Superintendent was rescued gallantly from their custody leaving nobody hurt or injured.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the ethics of the Force, whenever any member of the Force is arrested by any Security Agency, it is mandatory that the arrested personnel’s office is immediately informed, which is the standard practice.
It is laughable that a very Senior Police Officer of the rank of a Superintendent was arrested and detained for over Twenty-Four (24) hours by the Civil Defence Corps, Imo Command and the Commandant never deemed it necessary to inform the Commissioner of Police as required by law, moreso, when the victim pleaded for them to allow him put a call to his Commanding Officer or the Commissioner of Police.
Meanwhile, the officer is presently on admission at the Police Medical Centre, Amakohia”.
However, he disclosed that the Commissioner of Police, Imo Command, CP Mohammed Ahmed Barde, has directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of State Criminal Investigation Department (SCIID) to commence detailed investigation into the remote cause of the incident, promising that, at the conclusion of investigation the outcome will be made public.