The Defence Headquarters has ordered the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Takum, Taraba State, to produce the fleeing kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, as evidence that its soldiers are not culpable in his escape after three policemen and a civilian were killed at a checkpoint in Ibi, last Tuesday, PUNCH reports.
A top military source at the DHQ confided in one of our correspondents on Monday that the battalion had been issued a directive to produce the runaway kidnapper.
The top military source said, “The panel may not commence serious activities until after the Eid-el Kabir break. The Army had directed the battalion in Takum to produce the runaway kidnapper as evidence that its soldiers are not culpable.
“The military will not hesitate to dismiss and court-martial any soldier found to be involved in shady business than allow the reputation of the Army to be toyed with.”
Also, the Nigerian Army headquarters confirmed that the captain who ordered the killing of the policemen and the civilians was being cross-examined at the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, in Taraba State.
Findings by one of our correspondents on Monday however showed that the DHQ panel had yet to visit Taraba State but the IGP investigative team had been in Taraba.
The acting Director, Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, had said the panel was in “compliance with the directive issued by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the joint committee has commenced work immediately.”
The Intelligence Response Team of the police led by ASP Felix Adolije had come under attack from soldiers along the Ibi-Jalingo Road while taking a kidnap kingpin, Wadume, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo.
Three officers –Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi, Dahiru Musa and a civilian –died as a result of gunshot injuries.
The Nigerian Army had claimed that the soldiers fired at the IRT team because they failed to stop at three checkpoints, but this was dismissed by the police which demanded the whereabouts of the kidnap suspect who was allegedly freed by the soldiers.
However, the arrested soldiers involved in the shootings were being detained in Takum before they were moved to Abuja, according to the top police source on Monday night.
The police source added that some police officers from Ibi division and other civilians who arrived early at the scene of the incident were also moved to Abuja to furnish the seven-man joint investigation panel about what transpired during the incident.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the Defence headquarters to set up the panel to probe into the tragedy.
The DHQ had on Friday named a seven-man joint investigation panel, headed by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Olaiya, which has officers drawn from the army, navy, air force, police, the Department of State Services and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
The top police officer based in Taraba State but was attached to the IGP investigative team told one of our correspondents that the Army Captain from 93 Ada Barracks Takum who ordered the killings was called for questioning during the visit of the team.
He said, “The soldiers who killed the three police officers and the two civilians have been moved to Abuja. I can’t tell how many are they, but they were moved alongside some police officers attached to Ibi division and some early callers at the scene who have useful information regarding the incident.
“From the video which we perused during the visit to Ibi, which I believe you also saw on the social media, one of the police officers was trying to identify himself with his ID card that they were police officers, yet they went ahead and shot at him.
“It’s really unfortunate, we have to calm our boys or else we would have had another incident this time police shooting soldiers while we were in Ibi. Five of those killed have been taken to Abuja too for autopsy,” he said.
He, however, could not confirm whether the captain was also taken to Abuja.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP. David Misal, who declined comments on the issue, however, said five of those killed have been moved to Abuja.
“All the information you need now is with the Force PRO in Abuja, so there is little I can tell you,” he said.
However, a senior police officer in the Force headquarters in Abuja confirmed to one of our correspondents that some suspects including soldiers arrested in Taraba State had been moved to the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja.
The source, however, could not provide the number of the suspects.
As of the time of filing this report it was gathered that two military checkpoints along the Ibi-Wukari Road had been dismantled.
It was also gathered that the Police intelligence team who are trailing the fleeing kidnap kingpin have traced his location to Lafia, Nasarawa State, where he allegedly withdrew money from an ATM.
Following the killing of the three police officers, the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has directed troops on internal security duties to be cautious in their dealings with members of the police force.
Buratai also admonished travelling military personnel to do so in mufti in order to avoid confrontations with policemen.
The COAS in a letter dated August 9 and copied to all Army formations nationwide accused the police of making inflammatory comments in the social media which he said was capable of inciting the rank and file of the Nigeria Police to “exhibit aggressive tendencies against the NA personnel.”
The letter with reference number AHQDAIOPS/G3/240/232 written on behalf of the COAS by Brig. Gen. F. Omoigui, was titled, ‘Need for troops to be circumspect in dealing with members of the Nigeria Police.’
It read in part, “Accordingly, all troops on IS (Internal Security) duty as well as personnel travelling in and out of uniform are to be circumspect in their conduct to avoid escalation.
“Consequently, formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings with members of the NP in view of this development. Troops travelling on pass are to endeavour to do so in mufti.”