Their responsibility is primarily to safeguard Nigeria's territorial borders while maintaining law and order within states of the federation.

But their personal egos appear to have guided their conduct in Cross River.

The police station, including the armoury, was completely razed in the incident at Akim Police Station opposite a military Barracks.

Trouble started on Tuesday afternoon when a police traffic warden stopped a naval officer who got angry and ordered a junior office to deal with the policeman.

Reports suggest a Deputy Superintendent of Police who was passing by tried to settle the dispute, but the naval personnel descended on him as well.

A policeman, who escaped death by the whiskers said a senior police officer contacted the commander in charge of the unit and the matter was settled.

“We thought the matter was over until around 8pm when some naval personnel stormed Akim Police Station and started shooting at officers and visitors at the station.

“The naval personnel did not stop at shooting at people, they set the police station, including the armoury and suspects in the cell ablaze.

“Over 10 persons were killed. I know of three policemen who were confirmed dead. Many suspects in the cell died in the inferno. I narrowly escaped death. Few of us who took to our heels survived but many others sustained injuries of varying degrees.

A witness, John Bolus said: “It was like a war-torn zone. I thought it was another civil war. I was hearing the cacophony of gun shots and I took to my heels. I think the government should do something about it. The Navy should submit to the constitution.”

When contacted, the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said he had not been briefed.

Meanwhile, the naval authorities said on Tuesday night that only one person was shot.

According to the Navy, it was a minor incident involving a naval officer and a policeman, which was later resolved.