There was pandemonium in the Akpogbon area of Lagos yesterday, as a soldier and a policeman engaged in a fight over a violation of traffic rules.
Vanguard gathered that some soldiers who drove against traffic were stopped by a team of policemen attached to the Lagos State Environment and Special Offences Enforcement Unit, Task Force.
A verbal confrontation degenerated into a fisticuff, as one of the soldiers described the policemen’s action as an affront.
Eyewitnesses said the soldier attempted to disarm the policeman apparently to avoid an accidental discharge. But the policeman restricted the attempt as he guarded his arm as the fight went on.
Traders and motorists hurriedly fled to avoid being hit by likely stray bullets. Naval personnel and another soldier were sighted trying to mediate.
An eyewitness, Osatohamen Itohan, a United Kingdom-based Nigerian who went shopping at Akpogbon, in preparation to return overseas, said, “ This is a show of shame and an embarrassment to both forces. And to think that it is happening at this time the country is going through a lot with regard to insecurity calls for an urgent need to address the seemingly unhealthy relationship between lower-ranked personnel of both the Military and Police.
“For uniformed personnel to drive against traffic and defend his wrongdoing by fighting those who stopped him, is certainly a disregard for the law. Nobody is above the law, irrespective of who you are. Authorities of both Forces should do more on the enlightenment of their foot soldiers”.
Another eyewitness, a trader who simply gave his name as Ojo, said, “ Everybody took to his heels when the fight started. But some area boys and some soldiers came to separate the soldier and policeman. The Police fired tear gas canisters in the process”
When the spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, SP Benjamin Hudenyin, confirmed the clash. He said no arrest was made.
He said, “ They took one way, Police stopped them and they started quarrelling. There was no arrest”.
On his part, spokesman for the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt.Col. Olaniyi Osoba, said “We are very much aware of the matter. According to what I heard, there was a misunderstanding between the policemen and soldiers over traffic issues. The situation is under control and there is no traffic there at the moment, everybody is going about his normal business
“We are looking into the matter to fully ascertain what transpired. We will get those involved and investigate what transpired, thereafter, necessary action will be taken”.