At least one person was injured Yesterday at the Borno State government house when soldiers and police exchanged fire as they fought over food items distributed by the government to mark the Ramadan fast.
The government has since Monday distributed large amounts of rice and Semovita to poor residents.
On Thursday, a Premium Times report indicated thousands of people converged at the entrance of the government building in Maiduguri, forming an lengthy queue of men, women and the aged who hoped for either a 25kg bag of rice or Semovita,
As the distribution started, police barred vehicles from accessing the venue, except those on special permission.
At about 11am, a Nigerian Army truck showed up, insisting on gaining access to the venue where rice and Semovita were being shared.
Suspecting that the soldiers were trying to help themselves to the handouts, police officers demanded they turn back
This led to an argument and an angry soldier allegedly opened
fire, injuring a policeman in the leg, witnesses said. The police responded and gunshots rent the air as thousands
gathered scampered for safety.
It took the intervention of other senior security officers to arrest the situation from degenerating.
One of the army officers drafted to help control the crowd, identified only as Idris, a lieutenant, did not go free, as angry
policemen who accused him of instigating the crisis, beat him up.
The commander of the operation Lafiya Dole, Lucky Irabor, a Major General, was called in by the Borno State Attorney
General, Kaka Shehu Lawan, to restore order.
Calm returned after Mr. Irabor arrived alongside the state police commissioner and the director of State Security Service.
Addressing the parties in conflict, Mr. Irabor described the situation as “shameful and highly unbecoming of uniformed officers”.
“What is a bag of rice that will give you the cause to be angry? Bag of rice? It is shameful. If the world hears that it is
because of bag of that made police and soldiers to be fighting, is it not shameful? Let us not behave like children: all of us have children at home. Soldiers and policemen should be seen
to be matured in their dispositions at all times”.
He urged the conflicting parties to calm down.The army also said it will be addressing a press conference to
further state its position on the incident.