BY EMMA AMAIZE
KOKO — PANDEMONIUM broke out, Monday, in Koko, Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State, as soldiers attacked and injured police officers from Delta State Police Command, who were on escort duty with the state Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Anthonia Ashiedu.
The soldiers beat a police corporal, who drove one of the police vehicles, to pulp for allegedly blaring siren in the premises of the Warri North Local Government Council, which is close to a military outpost.
The corporal fainted because of the severe beating and was rushed to hospital for medical attention.
At press time, junior police police officers were spoiling for a showdown with soldiers in the state, saying it has become a tradition for soldiers to attack police officers in the state without justifiable reason.
State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, confirmed to Vanguard when contacted, saying the soldiers accused the police officers of blaring siren inside the secretariat of the council.
He said: “It is sheer brutality. I have reported the matter to the Inspector General of Police and contacted army authorities in the state, but they said they did not authorise the assault.
“They told us that there is no bad blood, but there is bad blood. Why did they attack fellow uniformed men in such a manner in the course of their duty? We are making a formal report on the incident.
“My stand is that the soldiers responsible for this attack should be fished out and made to face the music.”
A source who spoke to Vanguard said: “The police officers from the B’ Operations Department of the Delta State Police Command were on escort duty with the Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Anthonia Ashiedu. It was an empowerment programme for the less privileged by the state government and because she was carrying some money for the programme, they requested police escort.
The frog jump
“As it is usual on such occasion, the siren was on when they entered the premises of Warri North Local Government Coucil and about eight soldiers came from a nearby outpost and asked the police driver, Corporal Ekome, to frog-jump.
“The police officer that led the team came to tell the soldiers that they should stop the confrontation, but the soldiers attacked him, seized his rifle and tore the button on his uniform.
“With the atmosphere charged, more soldiers joined their colleagues and insisted that the police driver must frog jump, which he resisted.
“The soldiers descended on him, ignoring the appeal from other police officers to stop creating a bad impression of Nigeria security officials in the eyes of the public.
“Some of the policemen wanted to retaliate, but were prevailed upon by the crowd, which watched the show of shame with dismay.
“The commissioner was shocked by the incident as she stood watching without knowing what to make out of the ugly show of power.”
A junior police officer said: “We are waiting to know what the Commissioner of Police and others will do on this matter. If they sweep it under the carpet, I can assure you that we will attack soldiers in isolated places in the state because this is own is getting too much.
“Come to think of it, the job of internal security is that of the police. If not overzealousness, what is wrong in the police blaring siren in the premises of a local government council? Is that a reason for soldiers to attack policemen?”