New photographs released Sunday have rubbished claims by the police that an alleged attack by its officer on the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps, did not take place.
In a statement Friday, the Civil Defence had accused an unnamed Police Inspector of threatening to shoot dead the commandant-general, Ade Abolurin, challenging him for conducting anti-vandalism inspection at a site manned by the police.
A spokesperson for the Corps, Emmanuel Okeh, said Mr. Abolurin was in Lagos for an inspection alongside officials from the army, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and the Office of the Attorney-General.
The officials are members of a government committee on anti-vandalism chaired by the civil defence boss.
Mr. Okeh said the attack occurred at Ikorodu, Lagos, after the arrest of suspected vandals and oil thieves who were in possession of petroleum products.
He said after the arrest, a police team arrived at the scene in an unmarked danfo bus, and an AK 47-wielding police officer challenged Mr. Abolurin and made it clear to him the police were in charge of the site.
Attempts by members of the committee to caution the officer was rebuffed, Mr. Okeh said.
The photos mailed to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday show an armed police man decked in the police mobile force’s green pants and black T-Shirt, brandishing his weapon a few metres away from where the Commandant-General, Mr. Abolurin, stood.
In one of the photographs, the officer appears enraged and unwilling to allow Mr. Abolurin access the site despite an apparent attempt by an unarmed soldier to pacify him.
On Friday, police spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said investigation has commenced into the alleged attack.
But earlier, a spokesperson for the Lagos State police command, Lelme Kolle, had told PREMIUM TIMES it was untrue any officer challenged Mr. Abolurin.
Mr. Kolle said it could not be true that a police officer would attack a convoy of armed civil defence personnel and soldiers.
“It is a complete lie. It is not true. It is a concocted story,” said Mr. Kolle on Friday.
One of the photos appears to show an armed Civil Defence operative attempting to confront the rampaging policeman, before he was urged by his superiors to hold back.
The Lagos police spokesperson, Mr. Kolle, explained to PREMIUM TIMES that a police anti-vandalism team only stopped a convoy of 10 Hilux pickups that were moving at top speed towards the site in Ikorodu, Lagos.
He said the police officers sought to know whether the occupants of the cars had cleared with any police station before visiting the site.
Asked why the Commandant –General of the Civil Defence would require police clearance to carry out his statutory assignments, Mr. Kolle said it was possible the police operatives did not recognise that Mr. Abolurin was on the team.
Mr. Kolle dismissed any suggestion of an officer challenging the commandant-general. “It is not true. There was no argument,” he said.
But the pictures show Mr. Abolurin was on the ground and could be easily recognised. The pictures also show other armed police personnel nearby.
Civil defence personnel have been attacked in the past by police officers.
In 2013, two personnel of the anti-vandal squad of the Lagos state command of NSCDC- Gabriel Adaji and Innocent Akegbe- were shot dead by the police.
“It is however unclear if the suspected officer was working on a written script by a superior authority or just acting in his own capacity as a vandal in uniform,” Civil Defence spokesperson, Mr. Okey, said in a statement.
“What is however clear is that, this is the umpteenth time that officers and men of the corps has been brazenly harassed, molested, assassinated or maimed by officers of the Nigeria police in recent time in the cause of carrying out their legitimate assignments.”