Could troops shooting three police officers to death in Taraba Wednesday be the ultimate evidence of the narrative of collusion and the subsequent but understandable hardening of feelings in the country? And what will prevent the shooting from not being represented as such, with implications for a nation already enveloped by unusually high political temperature?
These are the questions bothering concerned observers and minders in relation to the news of the shooting Wednesday. It happened along Ibi-Jalingo Highway in Taraba State and the statement by the police on it was categorical that it was not a case of mistaken identity.
Not only was there no mistaken identity, the troops, said the statement, went ahead to set free the suspected mandarin of kidnapping in the area. And the man simply named as Alhaji Hamisu is now nowhere to be found. Already, insinuations are awash that sometimes, all it takes for a mystery to unravel is just one instance and that the story from Taraba has all such ingredients.
Most readers are automatically connecting the incident to two issues immediately. A narrative of collusion between troops and bandits/sundry killers has been on the ground since early 2018. Made by someone who is in a position to know, the narrative has taken hold. Two, a potential Minister of Defence told the Senate recently that there is simply no co-operation between the security agencies in the co-ordination of the several wars against generalized insecurity in Nigeria.
The inference is that if police officers from the most elite Intelligence Response Team, (IRT), are not safe from this sort of tragedy when carrying out an uncomplicated assignment as arresting a suspected kingpin, then there must be power behind the generalized insecurity across the country?
Taraba State, like Benue, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and of course, Borno have been zones of extreme violence. While killings in Zamfara and, to some extent, Katsina State have been broadly traced to material interests, those of Southern Kaduna, Benue and Taraba have been explained largely in identity terms.
Of course, more information would still have to be awaited in terms of what exactly happened but the suggestive meaning to it is registering fast.