LAGOS — Two officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps,NSCDC, were allegedly killed in the early hours of yesterday, in Ikorodu area of Lagos, during a shoot-out with a police team.
The deceased identified as Assistant Inspector Gabriel Adaji and Inspector Innocent Akegbe, reportedly went on a raid around Konu area of Ikorodu in the company of five other colleagues.
Their mission, we learnt, was to effect the arrest of some pipeline vandals said to be operating on a broken pipeline.
They were said to have made some arrests, recovered some exhibits and were on their way to their office when they were accosted by a team of policemen allegedly led by one Inspector Sunday Gabriel, attached to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
How they were killed
There were, however, different accounts of how the NSCDC officers met their untimely death.
A version of the account from NSCDC sources alleged that their officers were ambushed by the team of policemen who were contacted on phone by the arrested vandals.
According to NSCDC sources, “Immediately the Police got wind of the information, they ambushed the officers and opened fire on their patrol vehicles, killing two while others ran for dear lives with gunshot wounds. The vandals were immediately released by the policemen.
“On seeing that they were policemen, men of the corps refused to fire a single shot but could only express shock that a sister agency which ordinarily should assist in fighting crime and other criminality were the ones aiding them while the vandals continue to flourish in crime.”
Another version of the account had it that the policemen queried the NSCDC men for invading the area at such time (3 a.m.) without informing them.
This reportedly led to a verbal confrontation as the NSCDC officials maintained that they needed no clearance from the Police, since they were also carrying out their statutory responsibilities.
“After the raid, as the officials were driving along the expressway, they were first accosted by a team of Mobile Policemen. An argument ensued as one of the policemen said they had no right to operate in the area. But the NSCDC men explained that it was their duty to protect all government facilities including oil pipelines.
“After sometime, our men left but unknown to them, a team of policemen had laid ambush ahead. The policemen opened fire on our men, killing two and injuring five. The policemen then fled,” another NSCDC sources said.
Lagos Police Command reacts
However, in a statement by the Lagos State Police Command and signed by its spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, the command said: “The Lagos State Command wishes to use this medium to put the record straight on what actually transpired at Isawo-Ikorodu between the NSCDC and the Police.
“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 Inspector Sunday Gabriel to proceed to the scene.
“As they were approaching, they heard sound of serious gun firing in their area of pipeline coverage and the Inspector instructed his men to proceed to that direction as it could be the activities of vandals. Upon arrival, they saw a group of Civil Defence Corps men coming out from the direction where the shooting was earlier heard. 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 protect pipelines.
“Therefore, it was shocking that at about 0400hrs, the Civil Defence Corps Commandant called the Police Commander, Mosimi to say that he lost two of his men and their corpses have been deposited at the mortuary. Up till now, the pistol of Inspector Sunday Gabriel who was badly beaten and stabbed by the NSCDC officials including his other accoutrements are still with NSCDC.
“Subsequently, far away in Alausa, Ikeja, at about 0800hrs today (yesterday), the NSCDC officials abducted and assaulted three Policemen namely: Sgt Charles Igiebor, Cpl Ekun Julius and Cpl Okoro Charles who went for National ID card registration exercise. They also started attacking Policemen on sight in other parts of the state.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command immediately went on air to warn Policemen not to engage in any form of confrontation with the NSCDC officials.
“However, investigation into the matter has commenced while Lagosians are advised to maintain peace and remain calm.”
IG orders arrest of Police team
We reliably gathered that when news of the shoot-out reached both organisations hierarchy, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, directed the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Umar Manko, to personally wade into the matter.
Consequently, Manko was said to have ordered the arrest of the team of policemen on duty around the area. It was also gathered that one NSCDC official who was present at the scene was whisked alongside the policemen,to the state command headquarters, Ikeja,where investigation was said to be on going as at 3 p.m, yesterday.
NSCDC officers protest killing of colleagues
When the news filtered into the Corps office at Alausa, Ikeja, some personnel reportedly took to the streets, attacking policemen who were oblivious of the incident.
Eye witnesses said two policemen were beaten to stupor and dragged into the Corps’ office. At a point, a senior officer reportedly came out and ordered his men inside.
NSCDC boss tasks personnel
Meanwhile, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC Dr. Ade Abolurin, yesterday, in Abuja, charged men of the anti-vandal squad to maintain a working relationship with other security agencies in tackling the issue of vandalism and oil theft.
Abolurin in a statement signed by the corps spokesman, Okeh Emmanuel,urged the personnel to remain resolute and dogged in their drive towards fighting the illicit act to a standstill without compromise.
According to Abolurin,”the Federal Government through the enabling Act has mandated the Corps to carry out the function of mounting surveillance, protecting critical infrastructure of government, arrest and prosecute anyone caught in the act of vandalism as well as those suspected to be collaborators.”
Noting that the corps might be facing its teething problems and challenges in terms of cooperation and assistance from some quarters, he said that should not deter them from discharging their duty.
Apparently proffering solution aimed at preventing a reoccurrence of yesterday’s tragedy, he advised his men to liaise with any of the military formations within their localities whenever they intended to embark on any operation,informing that the military had agreed to collaborate and partner with the corps in stamping out vandalism, illegal bunkering and oil theft.
He further cautioned the corps personnel, particularly those attached to the Lagos command, to be law-abiding and avoid carrying out reprisal attack.