Female police triggers soldier/police clash
There was heightened tension around the INEC office, venue of governorship election results collation centre as personnel of the Nigerian Army and The Nigerian Police were engaged in a fierce exchange of gunfire that resulted in the death and injury of several personnel on both sides.
The Nigeria Standard learnt that a female police officer in mufti, while resuming duty at the INEC office on Monday morning was asked to produce her identity card for recognition. When she failed to cooperate, the soldiers assaulted her which attracted the attention of the police personnel on duty around that axis.
A fracas resulted which led to the two parties opening fire on each other which led to the instant death of one police personnel.
The clash which was accompanied by sporadic gunshots and tear gas led to the shutdown of business premises while people scampered back home for fear of the unexpected.
Initially, the incident was attributed to a post-election violence which was quite anticipated as final collation of results were being awaited. But it turned out different.
A journalist who was on his way to the collation centre was caught up in the fracas. He told this reporter that some party faithful were trying to protest the already announced result which made the security forces act in order to avert a breakdown of law and order.
“Here is no go area for now. It is like there are mercenaries in town. We are hiding in one of the shops. Everywhere is closed now. There are gunshots and tear gas all over,” the journalist told this reporter.
Meanwhile, several innocent personnel of the Nigerian Police are feared dead with several injured in what seemed like a reprisal attack.
The Nigeria Standard was at the police headquarters in Jalingo to ascertain things. Several vehicles were riddled with bullet shots and their tyres punctured as a result. Some uniforms were seen with blood stains on them. Also, police personnel, mostly in mufti, were seen discussing the experience.
According to some of them, the soldiers raided the premises in armoured vehicles in reprisal of the earlier incident at the premises of the INEC office. They said they were caught unawares which resulted in a lot of casualties.
“I thought that was my end”, stated an eyewitness, a food seller. Punarimam recounted her experience when the soldiers stormed the premises of the Police headquarters where her shop is located.
“I was at the shop. I heard some scuffle. They started around the INEC office. I was cooking and before I knew it, I heard sporadic shots. I ran and stumbled. I left my cooking. The shooting was too much and I thought that was my end.
” I called home and asked them to pray for me because I am not sure if I would be alive or not. I pleaded with everyone at home to forgive me if I have offended them.
“It is a thing to give thanks. I never expected a single policeman would come out alive. I was surprised to see them alive,” Punarimam revealed.
A joint team of the police, army and the Department of State Security (DSS), has confirmed the killing of one police officer and the injury of three other personnel.
In a joint press briefing at the SSS headquarters in Jalingo, the Taraba State Commissioner of Police, Sulaiman Yusuf narrated what happened.
“The Commander 6th Brigade of the Nigerian Army and the Commissioner of Police, Taraba State Command, regret the unfortunate incident that occured this morning 20th March, 2023 which led to a clash between the personnel of both organizations in Jalingo.
“It was a minor disagreement that led to the escalation of the incident. This incident is a dent in the synergy and mutual trust both the army and the police in Taraba State have enjoyed .
“While assuring the citizens of Taraba State to go about their daily activities, the high command of both organizations have set up a joint investigation team to look into the root cause of the matter with a view to ensuring that erring personnel are brought to book,” the Taraba State Commissioner of Police, stated.
He also assured that all efforts are still in place to support the ongoing electoral process and to see to its completion.
However, the ongoing collation of results for the governorship elections have been put on hold. Collation and announcement of results for the remaining six local government areas were supposed to commence by 11 am that day but the latest incident may have put it on hold.