Molly Kilete, Abuja
The last may not have been heard about the killings of three police officers and a civilian by soldiers in Taraba State as the police have challenged the army authorities to produce Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, it allegedly rescued from his abductors.
The Police Force Headquarters has also challenged the Nigerian Army to tell Nigerians how a kidnapped suspect in handcuffs escaped from soldiers who were supposed to have rescued him from his abductors.
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, who made this known in Abuja, also debunked claims by the army that the policemen failed to identify themselves and that the police division at Ibi, was not informed about the presence of the IRT personnel in the state.
Mba, said that contrary to the claims by the army to cover up its murderous act, 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.
The police spokesman said “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 police officers and one civilian, and serious injury to other operatives, who were on a 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 they were 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.”