Following Tuesday’s clash between the navy and police in Calabar, indications emerged on Wednesday that some naval operatives used a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) to bring down a section of the Akim Police Barracks in the Cross River State capital.
Trouble started earlier on Tuesday when an unidentified naval rating was shot in the left shoulder by a policeman over an alleged traffic offence.
The situation later degenerated as a section of the Akim Police Station, which is located along the busy IBB Way, was allegedly burnt by navy personnel, while two police vehicles were set ablaze.
It was learnt that two policemen, identified as Sergeant Odudu and Corporal Emmanuel Mbang, were shot dead at a close range, while a third policeman, identified simply as Ibiam, was shot in the left eye.
An eyewitness, Samson Inok, said at least three navy operatives emerged from a nearby gutter and shot the policemen who were trying to escape from the station.
Inok said, “The navy operatives came out from the gutter and started shooting at a very close range, while a GPMP mounted far Away started firing at the station. Those that shot the policemen came out from the gutter.
“They accessed the police station through the underground water drainage channels. The policemen that died were shot at close range by naval personnel that emerged from the gutter. They were running out for safety thinking that the naval men were far away.”
Meanwhile, Governor Ben Ayade said peace had returned, urging the state residents to go about their legitimate business.
Ayade said, “I just met with all the service commanders on the incident that happened on Tuesday. The whole area is calm after the unfortunate incident that arouse from the misunderstanding between a policeman and a naval rating.”
The governor said senior officers of the navy and police were proactive by intervening fast.
He said the state was calm, peaceful and already agog to receive the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is billed to visit the state today (Thursday).
“The unfortunate incident arouse from an issue at a traffic light spot at the stadium, off IBB Way, where a policeman was trying to control traffic. It led to misunderstanding between a policeman and a naval rating resulting in a physical combat,” he said.
The governor, however, regretted the incident and promised to take full responsibility for the damage 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 of the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, Commodore Salihu Jubril, said the navy was saddened by the incident, adding that normalcy had returned.
Jubril said the incident only affected a portion of IBB Way and not the entire metropolis.
“Let me assure you that the culprits will be brought to book and appropriate sanctions meted out to them,” he added.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, said the fracas had nothing to do with the relationship between the police and navy, adding that it was a misunderstanding between junior officers.
Inuwa said, “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 citizens.”