June 15, 2024
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5 Questions for Army over killing of police operatives

The word ‘waste’ erupts in the mind as one imagines the unnecessary killing of three elite police officers in Taraba State this week. As an evidence of the lack of cooperation among security agencies fighting terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and communal violence, army personnel were those involved in the senseless shooting. In the last one year, at least, 10 members of the elite policemen from the IRT unit have been killed. One was killed in Kaduna last week in an ambush while the operatives were there to arrest some kidnappers. Still in Kaduna, last year, four were killed in another ambush after they had captured a kidnap kingpin and were on their way back to Abuja. Another was killed in Port Harcourt late last year while on duty to arrest some kidnappers.

Of all these killings, the most disturbing was the one of this week in which soldiers shamelessly killed policemen who had identified themselves. The soldiers, in an inexplicable manners, were said to have gone ahead to set free the kidnap suspect, Alhaji Hamusi Bala Wadume. Feelers from Taraba State indicate that Alhaji Wadume is suspected to have collected a ransom of N100 million from a businessman  kidnapped last year in Taraba State. Now, soldiers have him free in a dangerous and bloody style from the arms of the law!

Studies have shown that leaders of criminal gangs, including kidnappers, are popular, even well-loved in their communities, because they would generously and freely dispense the blood money they acquire to the people, including institutions and powerful personalities. It seems that Alhaji Wadume is in the bracket of such criminals, some persons from Ibi community alerted the Army about his arrest. It was now the army who would, unfortunately, set him free.

There are many questions that arise from this ugly situation. Some of them are contained in a press release by Mr Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and spokesman at Force Headquarters. In carrying out the investigation into this mess, the starting point would be for the army to provide answers to the questions put forward by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO).

It reads as follows:

“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to the Press Release by the Nigerian Army dated 07 August, 2019, seeking to justify the unprovoked and unwarranted murder of three (3) Police officers and one (1) Civilian, and serious injury to other operatives, who were on legitimate criminal investigation activities to Taraba State, to arrest one Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume indicted in a series of high-profile kidnap incidents in the State. In the best tradition of Esprit de Corps, Inter-Agency Harmony and National Interest, the Nigeria Police Force would naturally have kept quiet, but it has become imperative to set the record straight by addressing the obvious distortion of facts inherent in the Press Release by the Nigerian Army.

“The most important question arising from the Nigerian Army Press Release is: Where is Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume? Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a millionaire kidnapper arrested by the Police but paradoxically treated as a ‘‘kidnap victim’’ by the Soldiers and subsequently ‘rescued’ by them. Where is he? Where is the rescued kidnapper?

“Secondly, the Press Release was silent on the source of the alleged distress report or identity of the complainant, on the strength of whose report, the Army claimed had informed their decision to engage in the purported chase and rescue operation. Needless to state that in the true spirit of transparency and accountability, the Nigerian Army ought to have arrested the purported distress caller – if any – for obviously and deliberately furnishing them with false and misleading information. Besides, such arrest should, in fact, be made public!

“Thirdly, it is not true that the Policemen failed to identify themselves as alleged in the Press Release. The video on the incident, now viral, wherein the voice of one of the soldiers was heard loudly proclaiming that the Policemen were from the Force Headquarters, Abuja speaks volume. Besides, the presence of the IRT personnel was well known to the Taraba Police Command as the Operatives officially and properly documented not only at the State Command Headquarters but also at the Wukari Area Command and the Ibi Divisional Headquarters. As a matter of fact, some of the Detectives from the Taraba State Command’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were part of the operation.

“The Force also considers it insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic for the Press Release by the Army to continue to describe Policemen on lawful National Assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’ long after it had become crystal clear to the Army that these are Law Enforcement Officers who unfortunately were gruesomely murdered in the line of duty by Nigerian soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum.

“In the final analysis, we leave the Nigerian Army authorities to provide Nigerians with answers on the following questions emanating from their Press Release:

  • Where is the notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume ‘rescued’ by the soldiers?
  • How and why was Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume released by the soldiers?
  • How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers?
  • If Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a ‘‘victim of kidnap’’ as claimed, and properly rescued by soldiers, why was he not taken to the Army Base for documentation purposes and debriefing in line with the Standard Operating Procedure in the Nigerian Army?
  • Why were the Police Operatives shot at close range even after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation?”

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