Douglas Road, the commercial nerve centre of Owerri, the Imo State capital, was on Thursday thrown into confusion as policemen attached to a branch of First Bank clashed with an officer of the Nigerian Air Force, who was at the bank for a transaction.
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent at the scene of the incident that the clash started when the air force officer, who was said to be hospitalised, wanted to make use of one of the Automated Teller Machines on the bank premises, but was prevented from doing so by one of the policemen guarding the bank.
It was gathered that the policeman told the air force officer that he was being denied access because he was bearing firearm.
“The air force man, on hearing the reason he was prevented from using the ATM, got angry and resisted the policeman,” one of the eyewitnesses said.
An argument was said to have ensued, which degenerated to a fight.
It was learnt that the military officer was shot in the process.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the colleague of the injured officer, who later learnt about what befell one of them, mobilised and stormed the First Bank branch premises, shooting into the air. They later reportedly confronted some other policemen found in area and engaged them in a free for all.
Our correspondent learnt that the development created panic in the area as other banks – Fidelity, Skye, Zenith and Diamond – on the street immediately shut down operations, while traders on the road closed shops.
It took the combined efforts of senior police officers and men of the Military Police officers to restore peace, as the injured air force officer was rushed to a hospital.
The First Bank branch, where the incident occurred, was forced to close for the day, as armed policemen cordoned off the facility and denied customers access to the premises.
The state Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, said he had yet to be briefed about the incident.