Residents around a police station in Port Harcourt have reportedly fled their homes after soldiers stormed their neighbourhood to carry out a reprisal attack against police officers.
A soldier was reportedly shot dead by a police officer at the police station along Ada George Road in downtown Port Harcourt on Wednesday night.
John Agim, spokesperson for the Defence Headquarters, told PREMIUM TIMES a soldier was killed Wednesday night, but said an investigation would unravel what led to the use of lethal force by the unnamed police officer.
“Yesterday evening, a soldier was killed, but I do not know what led to it,” Mr Agim told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Wednesday. “His colleagues heard about it and launched a reprisal attack.”
Mr Agim could not immediately say if anyone was killed during the reprisal attack. He said a joint investigation by the police and the Nigerian Army would clarify the issue.
“There is going to be a joint investigation between the police and the Nigerian Army,” Mr Agim, a brigadier-general, added.
Some residents around the police station scampered for safety after waking up to see a contingent of troops in their neighbourhood.
Boma Fineface, a resident of the area who told PREMIUM TIMES of his ordeal, said the soldiers scared many residents away.
He said about two police officers were arrested and taken to a Nigerian Army detention facility at Bori Camp Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State police commissioner, Zaki Ahmed, and the command’s spokesperson, Omoni Nnamdi, did not immediately return several calls and text messages seeking comments Thursday afternoon.
Nigerian soldiers often embark on reprisal attacks against sister agencies or even private individuals and organisation.
Last month, soldiers stormed a community in Benue State and razed large parts of it in a reprisal attack that followed claims that one of their colleagues was lynched by the townspeople.
In December, soldiers clashed with police officers in Ekiti State, causing commotion and anxiety amongst residents.
But today’s fracas in Port Harcourt would be amicably resolved between the police and the Nigerian Army, in “a remarkable” departure from the previous clashes, Mr Agim said.