The Nigerian Police and Army have been embroiled in a “scrimmage” as a result of the killing of three police operatives in the line of duty.
The police were in the process of transporting a kidnap kingpin from a rural area in Taraba to Jalingo the state capital when members of the Nigerian army pursued them and carried out a rescue mission on the suspect whom they claimed they thought to have been a victim. The operation turned bloody as policemen were killed and others were injured.
The army was quick to release a statement, pushing the blame to the police for not properly coordinating the raid and causing confusion. The police have also countered with a statement of their own which explained the series of events. Both statements contain contradicting positions and no concrete revelations have been made
As we await further developments on the situation, below is all you need to know about the fracas.
Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is an indicted kidnap suspect linked to a series of high profile kidnap cases in Taraba state. He was being escorted to Jalingo by members of the Nigerian Police force and some personnel of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) when the army attacked.
The Covert Operation
According to the statement released by the Nigerian Police, the police officers and Intelligence Response Team (IRT) personnel were escorting Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume who they had arrested on kidnapping charges. The operation was not carried out in isolation, the presence of the IRT personnel in the state was well known to the Taraba Police Command and 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. More so, some of the Detectives from the Taraba State Command’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were part of the operation.
Chase and rescue operation
The Nigerian Army claimed that they had received a distress report from villagers that the kidnap suspect was actually a kidnap victim. They also maintained that they pursued a white bus conveying 10 persons they thought were kidnappers, not knowing that the bus was mostly occupied by police officers from the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in Abuja. The army also blamed the policemen for lack of communication and cooperation. The army however failed to reveal the identity of the informant.
The chase and rescue operation carried out by soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum, resulted in the killing of three operatives of the Nigerian police. The army had previously claimed that the Policemen failed to identify themselves and had refused to halt at three consecutive checkpoints prior to the shooting. However, the police in their own statement debunked this assertion, and claimed that one of the soldiers was heard loudly proclaiming that the Policemen were from the Force Headquarters, Abuja. The also stated that their pressence in the state was duely documented by the State Command Headquarters, Wukari Area Command and the Ibi Divisional Headquarters.
Questions raised by the police
The Nigerian police in their statement shared via their official Twitter handle also raised some questions for the army to answer. The questions were:
- 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?
The army is yet to release another statement in response to these questions at the moment.