The Nigerian Army has attributed the shooting of three police intelligence officers to death Wednesday in Taraba State by troops to a distress call mishap. Reacting to an earlier statement by the Police on the incident, Col Sagir Musa who speaks for the Army explained that the troops of 93 Battalion, Nigerian Army in Takum were actually pursuing and exchanging fire with some suspected kidnappers who turned out to be an Intelligence Response Team from the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja on a covert assignment.
According to Musa, the troops were responding to a distress call to rescue a kidnapped victim when they ended up exchanging fire with the suspected kidnappers along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State. Numbering about ten, the said suspected kidnappers were driving in a white bus with Reg. No LAGOS MUS 564 EU and they refused to stop when they were halted by troops at three consecutive check points. “The flagrant refusal of the suspected kidnappers to stop at the three checkpoints prompted a hot pursuit of the fleeing suspects by the troops”, said Musa who argues that it was in the process that the suspected kidnappers “who were obviously armed” opened fire on the troops thereby prompting them to return fire.
Critical observers are wondering why it was not possible for the two security agencies to sort out issues and present a single narrative? Others are asking why there is no mention at all of Alhaji Hamisu in the Army narrative of the shooting?
It remains to be seen which of the two narratives will be more believed by a nation already beyond being shocked by such aberrations. Not only were four (4) suspects (the police officers) shot dead on the spot, four (4) others sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds and two (2) others missing in the Army’s account, it was after the shooting that one of the wounded police officers reportedly disclosed the fact that they were indeed policemen dispatched from Force Headquarters, Abuja for a covert assignment.
Blaming lack of proper coordination, the Army statement noted how the incident it called unfortunate could have been avoided as “the Nigerian Police Force are partners in the fight against crimes such as kidnapping amongst myriads of other internal security threats confronting our nation”. Calling the Nigerian Police the lead agency in that process, the Army spokesperson disclosed that, in other to avert such in the future, the Army Headquarters and the Force Headquarters of the Nigerian Police have agreed to constitute a Joint Investigation Panel to be headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation Department, DIG Mike Ogbizi. The panel would jointly investigate and report on the true circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident, said Col Musa who added that, until the Joint Investigation Panel concludes and submits its report, it would be “premature to officially conclude and speak on the real circumstances that caused this unfortunate but very avoidable unfortunate incident”