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DISGRACEFUL!!! 3 Dead As Police And Soldiers Clash In Lagos, Leaving Millions In Property Damage (Details below)

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It is said that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers as collateral damage. When two of the nation’s security forces decide to make the nation’s streets into a free-for-all action adventure then one must understand that things have gone horribly wrong in this country.

We use this opportunity to reminisce about that time in our nation’s sordid past where soldiers and police had a showdown in Lagos.

At least three people were reported dead in a show of dominance between operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Army; when soldiers and police exchanged live fire in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, in 2005.

The event happened as an incident between a police officer and a soldier degenerated into a wild free-for-all.

Reports have it that Police and soldiers traded fire across the city’s main artery and cars and offices were torched in one of the worst clashes between police and soldiers in recent years.

The battle broke out when reports that a policeman had beaten up an army private sent more than 200 angry soldiers marching onto the streets to stage a reprisal attack.

Witnesses said that 500 metres to the Police Area Command office on Western Avenue, the troops from the Abalti Barracks in the Surulere district of Lagos marched, where they set a building ablaze after freeing detained criminals.

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Uche Aniagor, a shopkeeper who witnessed the violence, said the trouble began after policemen beat up an off-duty soldier during an argument.

“The soldier ran to the nearby barracks and mobilised his mates, who came out armed and in large numbers,” said Aniagor.

The soldiers exchanged fire with the retreating policemen and chased them to the command office, where they burnt the main building along with dozens of cars parked in the police compound, several witnesses said.

“We’re not sure what exactly killed them,” said a Red Cross official on condition of anonymity with one body showing gunshot injuries.

Soldiers and police often clash in Nigeria, where decades of military rule have bolstered a feeling of superiority over the police force in the lower ranks of the army. But the end of military rule in 1999 has reduced the influence of the military, possibly fuelling inter-force rivalry as the police gain constitutional relevance.

It was reported that the Former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu, told reporters that senior police and army officers had brought the situation under control when he visited the scene of the smouldering police station later.

“Whatever the problem is, we will get to the bottom of it and we will do our best to deal with it,” Tinubu said.

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The then Police Inspector General, Sunday Ehindero reacted to the incident calling the clash a “minor incident” and said steps were being taken to prevent a repeat in future.

In a country where we have trigger-happy policemen, such an incident should never be seen as a minor incident.

This high-handedness is one of the “little things” that being left unchecked over time, contributed to the incidents building up to the Lekki Tollgate riots.

Our security forces should be made to understand that they have to respect themselves, their uniforms, and their nation.

They are a part of the executive and are expected to serve their country in any way possible –not by fighting themselves or being public nuisances but by upholding the law and helping make Nigeria a better place.

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