Gombe - Nineteen Traffic Marshals, working for the Gombe State government on Tuesday sustained various degrees of injuries in clashes with a group of policemen in Gombe.
Babaji Dunama, General Manager of the Gombe State Agency for Social Services and Other Related Matters, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Gombe, the state capital.
He said that the clashes followed a disagreement between the police and the marshals at the Cross Roundabout in Gombe town.
The marshals are youths, employed by the State Government to perform sundry duties such as assisting in controlling traffic and enforcing environmental sanitation laws.
Dunama alleged that the marshals were attacked by the police while performing their duties.
The general manager said that when he tried to ask the police to stop harassing the marshals, the policemen threatened him.
He said that shortly after he left the place, the problem degenerated with the policemen beating marshals on duty.
Dunama said that after the incident at the roundabout, eight vehicles filled with police men went to his office at the Ministry of Youth and Poverty Alleviation and ransacked it while every marshal they saw there was beaten.
He alleged that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Gombe Command, Baba Yola, led the policemen to commit the act.
The general manager said that the DPO had been having problems with marshals, adding that his incessant harassment of the marshals was a threat to peace in the state.
He said that the 19 wounded marshals were arrested and taken to the police station.
Dunama, however, said that after he reported the matter to the Commissioner of Police, Kudu Nma, the marshals were released on bail.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Gombe State Police Command, Fwaje Atajiri, said that two policemen from the Gombe Police Division were sent to invite some persons suspected of committing assault.
According to the PPRO, when the policemen tried to invite one of the suspects, he refused and an argument ensued between the suspect and the policemen.
He said it was later discovered that the suspect was a marshal but that he was not in uniform.
Atajiri said that the clash could not have occurred if the police had known that the suspect was a marshal.
The spokesman said that the marshal should have followed the policemen to the station to explain and identify himself since he was not in uniform.
The PPRO denied allegations that policemen in eight vehicles went and beat many marshals in the Ministry of Youth and Poverty Alleviation.
Atajiri said the police was a disciplined organisation and that investigation would be conducted and anyone found to have gone beyond the call of his duties would not be spared.