The police denied that its officers shot any civil defence officer.
The Lagos State Police Command has denied claims that its officers attacked officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, on Wednesday.
In a press statement issued by Ngozi Braide, its spokesperson, the police said the civil defence officers disarmed police officers responding to a distress call over alleged petroleum pipeline vandalism at Mosimi.
“The Lagos State Command wishes to use this medium to put the record straight on what actually transpired at Isawo-Ikorodu at early hours of today 27/3/2013 between the NSCDC and the Police,” said the statement.
“At about 0145hrs of date, there was a distress call from DM security PPMC, Mosimi that they were experiencing drop in pressure on the pipeline. The Unit Commander in charge of Konu immediately pulled out his men on Konu axis under Inspr Sunday Gabriel to proceed to the scene.”
Ms. Braide said that as the police officers were approaching the scene, they heard sounds of “serious gun firing” near the pipeline area; and Mr. Gabriel instructed his men to head towards the direction.”
“Upon arrival, they saw a group of Civil Defence Corp Members coming out from the direction where the shooting was earlier heard,” Ms. Braid, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said.
“The NSCDC men challenged the policemen who were about four in number on what their mission was in the area; ‘saying that it was their sole responsibility (Civil Defence) to guide and protect pipelines,” she added.
An argument ensued thereafter, according to the police statement, and the most senior NSCDC officer, DSC Olufemi, ordered his men, numbering 14, to disarm, arrest and handcuff the police team leader and three other members of his team.
“The NSCDC succeeded in disarming the police team leader, Inspr Sunday Gabriel, handcuffed him, collected his service pistol, walkie-talkie, and police I.D card,” the statement continued.
“As they were about dragging him into one of their standby hilux vehicles, a phone call was put to the Police Unit Commander reporting the situation. The three other officers resisted the arrest and this infuriated Civil Defence Officials who started shooting sporadically to intimidate and subdue the Police officers.
“Before the Police Commander could arrive the scene, the NSCDC officials had taken to their heels abandoning the handcuffed and leg chained Police Inspector with one NSCDC personnel.”
Ms. Braide further said that afterwards, the Police Commander at Mosimi received a “shocking” call from the NSCDC Commander that two of his men had been killed.
“Up till now, the pistol of Inspr Sunday Gabriel, who was badly beaten and stabbed by the NSCDC officials, including his other accoutrements are still with NSCDC,” said Ms. Braide.
The police account of the incident differs from the NSCDC version which stated that one of the policemen they encountered said that the NSCDC had no right to operate in the pipeline area.
An argument ensued and the NSCDC officers left the police only to encounter a hail of bullets from a second team of police officers, an NSCDC source said.
The NSCDC account also said that the arrested pipeline vandals made several phone calls to the police and escaped after the police attack.
The police spokesperson added that the incident led to NSCDC officers at Alausa, Ikeja, assaulting three police officers – Sergeant Charles Igiebor, Corporal Ekun Julius, and Corporal Okoro Charles – who went for National I.D Card registration exercise, on Wednesday morning.
“They also started attacking Policemen on sight in other parts of the State,” she added.
Ms. Braide advised Lagos residents to remain calm as “investigation into the matter has commenced.”