Tension as police cancel briefing on clash with soldiers in Rivers

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Nigerian Police

The 6 Division of the Nigeria Army based in Rivers State is enduring a simmering situation with the state police command after two soldiers were targeted in brutal attacks allegedly by cops, as well as thugs.

The thugs and policemen reportedly followed Governor Nyesom Wike to his Obio Akpor local government area collation centre on Saturday night.

The two soldiers, Adams Salami, a captain, and Adeosun Adebayo, a corporal, are currently at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and the Military Hospital in Port Harcourt, respectively.

The press, led by the police, on Sunday afternoon, gained access to the two men.

The access followed an understanding between the army and the police that the police spokesperson for Rivers State, Omoni Nnamdi, would proceed from the hospital to address the press, stating what had happened the previous night.

Mr Nnamdi had invited journalists for the planned press briefing on the violence in Obio Akpor, before that programme was, however, suspended at the police office on Moscow Road in Port Harcourt. No reason was given.

Unsettling

According to a defence source, a Deputy Inspector General of Police and the police commissioner for the state, Usman Belal, had as early as 8 a.m on Sunday morning visited Bori Camp, the headquarters of the 6 Division of the army for a meeting with the General Officer Commanding there.

At the meeting, an agreement that the police should hold a press conference, lead investigations and accountability process was reached.

“We are the victims,” the defence source said. “So, we decided to hand off everything for the police.”

But while the police spokesperson started giving effect to the terms of the agreement by leading the press to the hospitals, he called off the press briefing, which now worries the Bori Camp.

“No any statement – are you saying that nothing happened?” Queried the source. “Or nobody is responsible. That’s the question begging for an answer.”

When interviewed on Monday night, Mr Nnamdi did not deny the said agreement between the police and the army over disclosure.

“We are putting our house together,” he said when asked why the press briefing was called off. “We’ll call you when we are ready.”

He said there was an ‘instruction’ not to go ahead with the press briefing for which journalists already arrived and that the high command in Abuja would have to give a ‘clearance’ for it to take place later.

When told about our finding that the CP and the DIG were with the army GOC to agree on the press briefing, he simply said: “that would be resolved at the strategic level.”

He confirmed the victims in the hospitals mentioned that they were attacked by police officers attached to Mr Wike. He, however, neither affirmed nor denied their claim.

“Our officers shot soldiers?” He queried, and then said, “Okay” when replied that that was the claim of the soldiers.

He declined to comment on whether any police officer had been arrested for any possible disciplinary action following the incident in Obio Akpor.

“Don’t let me preempt our work,” he said. “When we are done, we let you know.”

The Violence

When visited by journalists, both soldiers receiving treatment at the hospitals, struggled for coherence to say Mr Wike was personally present at the collation centre in Obio Akpor LGA, and that trouble started upon his arrival.

A civilian source who was at the centre would later give a narrative similar to the army’s.

Before the governor’s arrival, the source, who asked not to be named for security reason, said there had been a heavy presence of armed men wearing police uniforms, which he believes were fake, and a forced removal of people from centre.

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