A group of newly trained army recruits of Ekiti State origin on Thursday clashed with police officers in Ado-Ekiti, following disagreements over what was believed to be extortion of motorists by the soldiers.
In the process, the soldiers beat up and stabbed a police corporal, Abdulkadir Yakub, who had challenged their illegal activity at the Fajuyi Roundabout.
A witness said Mr. Yakub, a traffic police officer posted at the roundabout, was attacked after he challenged the soldiers for extorting money from motorists and causing a traffic gridlock.
Mr. Yakub reportedly sustained deep cuts in the head and buttocks, as he was said to have been stabbed by one of the recruits.
Witnesses said the young soldiers, who were about 17 in number, were returning from the governor’s office after a courtesy visit to Governor Ayodele Fayose when they stopped at the roundabout and started extorting motorists.
Another police corporal, Monday Agom, who paired Mr. Yakub at the post, recalled that the incident occurred at about 2.00 p.m., after Mr. Yakub pleaded with the soldiers not to cause a traffic gridlock by their activity at the roundabout.
“One of the soldiers stopped a man in mufti who happened to be a policeman right in his car and demanded the car key, while Yakub was trying to pass him to allow for the next person in line, so as to free traffic which was already building up,” Mr. Agom explained.
“Yakub then explained to him (the attacker) that the man he stopped is a police officer and that he should allow him to go as stopping him there would cause hold-up.
“This statement infuriated the soldier who immediately slapped Yakub, before bringing out a jack-knife with which he started cutting him at several parts of the body.
“I then joined other people to rescue Yakub from the soldier, who was shouting ‘I will kill you, idiot; I will kill you, idiot.”
He added that other soldiers also joined in punching Yakub who was already dripping with blood.
The situation degenerated when mobile police officers whose station was close to the scene, mobilised themselves and attacked the soldiers in reprisal.
It was learnt that one of the soldiers also sustained head injuries in the fracas.
A captain in Charge of Army Operations in Ekiti, Joshua Zoaka, who raced to the scene to save the situation was said to have been attacked during the fight, as the police officers confronted his team with tear-gas.
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in Ekiti, Alberto Adeyemi, a superintendent of police, said the incident had been reported to the Brigade Commander of the 32 Artillery Brigade in Akure, Ondo State.
“The soldiers, numbering 17, who were Ekiti State indigenes, just came back from a recruitment exercise in Zaria, Kaduna State and were in governor’s office for possible assistance from the governor,” said the police spokesman.
“They chose to make some money by stopping motorists at the Fajuyi roundabout, during which arguments arose with traffic wardens on duty, one of which they stabbed with a jack-knife.
“However the situation is under control as the Brigade Commander, Akure Division, was contacted and has come to pick up the recruits to face possible departmental questioning and sanctions.”