The Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives, led by Mr Ndudi Elumelu, has condemned the killing of three policemen and a civilian by soldiers in Taraba State.
The Reps asked the Federal Government to set up a judicial commission of enquiry over the incident, warning that it must not be swept under the carpet or treated with levity.
The caucus described the deceased police as heroes who died while securing their fatherland.
Elumelu also asked the Federal Government to compensate the families of the slain police.
Troops of the 93 Battalion Nigerian Army Takum had, on Tuesday, along the Ibi-Jalingo Road, Taraba State, opened fire on police operatives, led by ASP Felix Adolije of the Intelligence Response Team.
The team was taking a kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, to the Taraba State Police Command’s headquarters in Jalingo.
During the attack, three police, namely Inspector Mark Ediale , Sergeants Usman Danzumi, Dahiru Musa, and a civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries.
The Nigerian Army stated in its reaction that the dead policemen failed to identify themselves to the soldiers at a checkpoint on the Ibi-Jalingo Road, adding that they mistook the policemen for kidnappers.
However, while the soldiers ended up killing the three police, Wadume reportedly escaped, resulting in a development that angered the police.
Subsequently, the Nigeria Police Force’s spokesperson, DCP Frank Mba, in a statement on Thursday demanded the army to produce Wadume.
“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?” Mba asked.
In a statement by the Reps caucus, the lawmakers said, “We call on the Federal Government to immediately constitute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look diligently into these deaths as well as the circumstances surrounding the supposed ‘escape’ of Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, the suspected kidnap kingpin.
“The investigation ordered by the National Security Council at the end of its Thursday meeting appears to us too banal and routine, given the gravity of this incident and the uninspiring handling of previous inquiries into related matters.
“Lastly, we warn that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion and those entrusted with securing the lives and property of Nigerians must always be above suspicion of conspiracy and sabotage of crime-solving efforts.”
The Reps also called for a joint manhunt by the security agencies for Wadume to ensure that he faced the wrath of the law.
“This incident further highlights the lack of synergy, unhealthy inter-agency rivalry and sabotage, which may have been part of the reasons Nigeria is far from winning the war against the escalating insecurity across the nation.
“Indeed a situation where policemen on lawful duty die so horribly in the hands of a sister security agency gives causes for grave concern and portrays the nation’s security apparatchiks to the entire world as working at cross-purposes and prone to fifth columnists.”
House committee condemns army, police face-off
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Army has condemned the face-off between the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force following the murder of the latter’s operatives.
The agencies should talk less and await the outcome of the investigation.
“We will appreciate the organisations to jointly carry out the investigations to unravel the brains behind the incident and it will give us the opportunity to know what to say.”
Namdas implored the army and the police to work together as ‘partners in progress’ for the good of Nigeria.
CSO condemns soldiers’ action
Condemning the killing of the three policemen by soldiers, a group called the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, on Friday said by creation and law, the army was totally subject to the civil authority and its policing, which was exclusively managed by the Nigeria Police Force.
In the meantime, a hashtag created by the Nigeria Police Force, #ProvideAnswers
Nigerian Army, was among the most retweeted by Nigerians on Twitter on Friday.
By 6.14 pm when this report was filed for publication, the hashtag had garnered over 4,300 likes and over 3,200 retweets.
DHQ names seven-man panel
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on Friday named a seven-man joint investigation panel to investigate the killing of three policemen and a civilian by soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum, Taraba State, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.
The DHQ said the panel was headed by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Olaiya, and had officers drawn from the army, navy, air force, police, the Department of State Services and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
The acting Director, Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the seven-man panel in a statement.
He said, “In compliance with the directive issued by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, has constituted a seven-man Joint Investigation Panel to unravel the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident between the army and the police, allegedly resulting in the killing of three police personnel and a civilian along the Ibi-Wukari road in Taraba State.”
However, the Nigerian Army said on Friday it stood by its comments and it did not have any answers to questions raised by the police, including the whereabouts of Wadume.
Army arrests, detains soldiers
In the meantime, one of our correspondents learnt on Friday that the soldiers identified in the killing of three policemen and one civilian in Taraba State had been arrested and detained at 93 Battalion headquarters in Takum, Taraba State.
Military sources told our correspondent that going by the presidential directive, the soldiers involved in the incident were already going through cross-examination.
NYSC redeploys corps members
The National Youths Service Corps has redeployed corps members serving in the crisis-affected communities in the southern part of Taraba State.
The state Coordinator of NYSC, Mrs Florence Yakuugh, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Jalingo on Friday that the redeployment was to see to the safety of the corps members.
She said, “We received directives from our national headquarters to redeploy our youth corps members serving in the crisis-affected communities. We redeployed them out of those places and took them to the local government headquarters in Wukari, Donga and Takum for their safety.
“We are appealing to the warring factions to embrace peace and allow the development of their communities. The NYSC is a unifying institution and it is when there is peace that they can contribute their quarter to the development of their fatherland.”
The NYSC coordinator also tasked the local council authorities that were located across rivers to acquire life jackets for the safety of corps members posted to the areas.
Culled from Punch