Many feared dead as navy, police clash in Calabar

Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris
Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris

Many people were feared dead on Tuesday night after men of the Nigerian Navy and police clashed in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

The clash, which occurred at the Akim Police Station axis of the IBB Way in Calabar, threw the area into confusion as residents and passersby were seen fleeing the scene to escape being caught up in the crossfire.

Angry navy men also set the police station on fire.

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Premium Times reports that the unrest was a continuation of a skirmish between a police traffic officer and a naval officer at a traffic light near the Calabar Stadium along the Airport Road on Tuesday afternoon.

“Some naval officers ran the red light and police traffic officers intervened, but rather than listen, they descended on the policemen and beat them up,” a witness said. “This was around 5 p.m.”

“Police officers now called for backup and the Navy also called for reinforcement and they took over the road leading to the airport.

“But the Navy Commander and police commissioner in the state intervened and the two sides backed down,” the witness said.

“However, around 8:00 p.m., when everyone thought the matter had been resolved, naval officers descended on Akim Police Station and started shooting and burnt down the facility.

“We confirmed three bodies but we feared there are more,” the witness said.

The witness also accused the naval officers of blocking fire fighters from extinguishing the inferno set at the police station.

Confirming the incident, which started around 7pm, the state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Irene Ugbo, told Punch, “We have not been able to ascertain what is happening yet. But the little I can gather is that two Navy officers beat up a police officer. So, the two of them were arrested and taken to the police station at Akim along IBB Way.

“So, the Navy people were informed and they stormed the police station. We are still trying to calm the situation down. I have not heard of any casualty for now. We are still trying to calm the place down.  It is still not calm.”

Naval spokesperson, Suleiman Dahun, told Premium Times he wasn’t aware of the development as at 10:26 p.m., promising to revert after his findings.