It was mayhem on Thursday at the Borno State government house in Maiduguri when soldiers and police engaged in a shoot-out as they fought over food items distributed by the government to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to mark the Ramadan fast. The fracas left at least one person injured.
A large crowd had gathered at the government house in Maiduguri on Thursday as the eagerly longed for either a 25kg bag of rice or Semovita, or both, which was being shared by policemen. But as the sharing began, soldiers of the Nigerian Army arrived demanding entrance into the venue which had already been barred by police. Suspecting that the soldiers were trying to help themselves to the handouts, police officers demanded they turn back immediately. An argument ensued and an angry soldier allegedly opened fire, injuring a policeman in the leg, according to eyewitnesses accounts. The police responded and gunshots rent the air as thousands gathered scampered for safety.
The commander of the operation Lafiya Dole, Lucky Irabor, a Major General, who was called in to retain order addressed the conflicting parties.
“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.”
The Borno State Government has however halted the sharing of food items owing to the violence.