Senior police and army officials in Lagos have entered into crisis talks after a policeman identified as Inspector Orukpe Monday died from torture he allegedly received from soldiers who attacked him and his colleagues in the Trade Fair area of Lagos State.
Another Inspector, Igbafe Ojo, who was reportedly tortured by the same soldiers, has been hospitalised at the military hospital in the Ojo Military Cantonment, where doctors were said to be battling to save his life.
It was gathered that the soldiers were on their way to attend a training programme at the Ojo Military Cantonment on Wednesday when the bus conveying them to the destination encountered mild traffic around the Trade Fair area of the Lagos Badagry Expressway.
A source said some of the soldiers, upon realising that the traffic was caused by policemen trying to pave the way for a truck driver to link the expressway, came down from the vehicle to challenge the policemen.
The source, however, said the situation led to an argument that degenerated into a fight when one of the soldiers allegedly slapped one of the policemen, adding that the soldiers arrested two policemen. In comparison, the other three policemen fled to safety.
The source said, “About 30 soldiers were going to Ojo Military Cantonment for a training programme. They were being conveyed in a green army coaster bus, but as they approached the Trade Fair area, they encountered traffic.
“About five policemen were around the axis standing by the roadside when one truck attempted to enter the Lagos Badagry Expressway. So, the policemen had to stop vehicles on the expressway for the truck to navigate safely into the expressway.
“During that period, it slowed down vehicular movement; the first three vehicles were driven by civilians but the fourth was the bus conveying the 30 soldiers. When the soldiers realised that it was policemen that stopped the vehicles ahead of them, some of the soldiers got down and started challenging the policemen.
“During the argument, one of the soldiers slapped a policeman, and the incident led to a fight. So, the soldiers, because of their numbers, overpowered the policemen. The soldiers attempted collecting the gun held by one of the policemen, but while preventing them, the soldiers removed the magazine.
“The soldiers beat and took two of the policemen to their barracks. They wanted to take the third policeman away but he shot in the air and escaped. The other inspector was also able to escape but the senior policeman was beaten severely, and they took his gun.”
The source said the soldiers allegedly tortured the two policemen they took to their barracks, adding that one of them died because of the injuries he sustained during the torture.
“By the time the police got to the barracks to ask for the two policemen, they met one of the policeman unconscious while the body of the other policeman had been bandaged due to the torture from the soldiers.
“The injured policemen were seen at the military hospital in the barracks, and the soldiers refused to release the policemen to the senior policemen who came to ask after their colleagues. The soldiers said the policemen are not strong enough to leave the hospital and also refused to release the guns in their possession,” the source in Lagos said of the death of the policeman from the torture received from the soldiers.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said, “There was an issue between soldiers and police on Wednesday, and the command is working closely with the army high command to resolve the issues. But one of the policemen involved in the incident is dead.”
In a statement on Friday, the spokesperson, 81 Division Nigeria Army, Major Olaniyi Osoba, said the army was already in touch with the state police command to resolve the matter.
“This incident is highly regrettable given the Division’s disposition and zero tolerance for any misconduct.
“Accordingly, the Division has instituted a Board of Inquiry to unravel the circumstance surrounding the unfortunate incident. At the end of the investigation, anyone found culpable will be made to face the full wrath of the disciplinary provisions.
“Consequently, the Division wishes to commiserate with the Ojo Police Division and members of the family of the victim,” he said.