The Ebonyi Police Command has confirmed the clash between its officers and soldiers from the Nigerian Army Cantonment, Nkwagu, near Abakaliki, on Saturday evening.
DSP George Okafor, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abakaliki.
However, Mr. Okafor said that the matter had been resolved amicably.
According to him, the clash is unfortunate and efforts have been made by the two agencies to forestall such occurrences in future.
“The matter has been peacefully resolved and we urge the public not to panic over the development but be assured of their safety at all times,” he said.
Mr. Okafor, who declined further comments on the issue, also failed to confirm whether police officers involved in the clash sustained injuries.
A witness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told NAN that the incident occurred at No. 1, Water Works road, Abakaliki.
“Trouble started when a police patrol team on road check requested for the identity cards and vehicle particulars of army officers from the Nkwagu military cantonment.
“The soldiers rode a tinted Toyota Camry car with registration number BWR 886 AE and a black Toyota Jeep with the inscription of ‘Bride’ used to convey a newly wedded couple.
“The soldiers, who were in their uniforms except one personnel, told the police team they were returning from a wedding and felt embarrassed by their request for the documents.
“At this point, one of the police officers stopped the soldiers from passing and the latter angrily fired sporadically into the air,” he said.
According to the witness, who is a security agent, the police officers called the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) on phone and immediately they stormed the scene, one of them slapped a soldier.
“The clash subsequently ensued and the police who had the upper hand, took some of the soldiers to the command’s headquarters while confiscating their rifles.
“The soldiers who escaped from the scene, rushed to the cantonment and on their way, allegedly attacked some policemen near the cantonment and held them hostage,” the security agent told NAN.
The witness also said one of the police officers held by the soldiers was released and he quickly rushed to the command to report that some officers were being held at the cantonment.
“This development almost affected the peace moves made by both security agencies but the situation eventually normalised following intervention by top echelon of both agencies,” the source added.
The army authorities were yet to react to NAN enquiries or make public their reaction over the development.