least one person was injured Thursday 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.
Thursday, thousands of people converged at the entrance of the
government building in Maiduguri, forming a lengthy queue of men, women
and the aged who hoped for either a 25kg bag of rice or Semovita, or
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.
that the soldiers were trying to help themselves to the handouts,
police officers demanded they turn back immediately.
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 prevent the situation from degenerating.
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.
commander of the operation Lafiya Dole, Lucky Irabor, a Major General,
was called in by the Borno State Attorney General, Kaka Shehu Lawan, to
Calm returned after Mr. Irabor arrived alongside the state police commissioner and the director of State Security Service.
the parties in conflict, Mr. Irabor described the situation as
“shameful and highly unbecoming of uniformed officers.”
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.
“While everyone is clapping for good that we have been doing, let us not
also do things that will make them to begin to stone us. I want you to
calm your nerves, because in a family you are likely to find incidents
result of the incident, the government suspended the distribution of the
freebies, leaving expectant beneficiaries disappointed and frustrated.
The Borno state government is expected to issue a statement later on whether the exercise will continue.
The army also said it will be addressing a press conference to further state its position on the incident.