By Shola Abayomi.
The Nigeria Police Force, has rubbished a statement by the military claiming that the three police officers on covert mission to arrest a kidnap gang leader named, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, in Taraba State on Tuesday, were killed in error.
Recall that the Police on Wednesday, through its spokesperson, DCP Frank Mba, narrated that ten of its officers were on an operation to arrest a kidnap kingpin in Taraba, and after successfully arresting the suspect, the policemen handcuffed him and drove him towards the state capital, Jalingo, where they came under close-ranging shooting from soldiers in the white bus they were travelling on, resulting in the death of three officers and a civilian, while several others were injured.
The narration by the police spokesman, also added that the handcuffed suspect was freed by the soldiers.
However, the Army spokesperson, Sagir Musa quickly debunked the police report, stating that the policemen who were mistaken for kidnappers following a distress call by villagers, were killed in error.
Sagir blamed the unavoidable tragedy on poor communication on the part of the police.
Infuriated by the statement of the military, the Police, through its spokesman, Frank Mba on Thursday, raised a series of questions for the military to clarify.
In a press release, titled “Setting the Record Straight – Where is the ‘Rescued’ Notorious Kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume?” the Police Force berated the military for seeking to justify the unprovoked and unwarranted murder of three police officers and one civilian, who were on legitimate criminal investigation activities to Taraba State.
The Police also disclosed that the Army lied in its statement by claiming the policemen failed to identify themselves.
The statement reads: 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:
1. Where is the notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume ‘rescued’ by the soldiers?
2. How and why was Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume released by the soldiers?
3. How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers?
4. 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?
5. 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?”