JTF personnel manhandle two policemen in Bayelsa

Samuel Oyadongha

21 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The peace parley between the military and police in Bayelsa State was violated weekend when soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force allegedly manhandled two members of state special security outfit Operation Famou Tangbe leaving them seriously injured.

The attack on the policemen took place along the Sani Abacha Expressway close to the road connecting the Ox Bow Lake and the NNPC Mega station.

Tension had been brewing between the military and the police in the state in the last couple of weeks following series of near violent skirmishes involving their personnel.

Only last week the military and police formation in the state held a closed door meeting which lasted several hours to explore ways of proffering solution to incessant face off between the sisters security agencies operating in the state.

The meeting followed the penultimate week attempted attack on the ‘A’ Division of the Nigerian Police Force by men of the Nigerian Air Force over the alleged arrest of one of its personnel by the former during a raid on a drug joint.

It was reliably gathered that the latest altercation occurred Saturday afternoon when about fifteen soldiers in two Toyota hilux van with the inscription JTF Operation Restore Hope swooped on the unsuspecting police patrol team over alleged report that they were involved in indiscriminate shooting, a claim the battered policemen dismissed as diversionary insisting that the attack on them was premeditated.

When our correspondent visited the police outfit headquarters at Ovom, one of the battered policemen explained the soldiers after disarming them tainted them saying “we have heard so much about you people.”

The constable whose trouser waist line was torn ostensibly in course of their being rough handled said they even had to count the thirty bullets in their magazine which were complete so as to convince the soldiers that the allegation that they were on shooting spree was false was rebuffed.

He further explained that to their surprise the soldiers subjected them to severe beating after disarming them of their service rifles and in the process inflicted deep cut on the head of his partner.

As at the time of filing this report, the injured policemen were receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.

Contacted the police public relations officer, Mr. Eguavoen Emokpae (ASP) confirmed the incident.

He however said information at his disposal was sketchy but a senior military officer who spoke anonymously told Vanguard that the soldiers did not attack the policemen as claimed insisting that they (soldiers) only confronted the policemen to clarify claims that they were on shooting spree.

“It is not as if there was a clash between the soldiers and the police. They heard report of firing and they (soldiers) went to clarify,” the source said.

However the Joint Task Force Spokesman, Lt. Col Timothy Antigha when contacted said the matter was under investigation.

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