The Nigeria Police can barely contain institutional anger against the Nigerian Army for the shooting of three of its crack undercover operatives Wednesday in Taraba State in Northeast of Nigeria. It is particularly asking for the suspected kidnapper kingpin whose full name is surfacing at last as Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadune. Before, the name was given as just Alhaji Hamisu.
Police spokesperson, Frank Mba is categorically charging the Army with “seeking to justify the unprovoked and unwarranted murder of three (3) Police officers and one (1) civilian, and serious injury to other operatives, who were on 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”. The police, said Mba in a statement in response to the Army statement on the shooting, is not keeping quiet as it would have done in deference to the tradition of esprit de corps, inter-agency harmony and national interest because there had been distortion of facts that makes setting the records straight an imperative.
The most important question arising from the Nigerian Army Press Release, according to the police 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?”
The police went further to stress the silence of the statement on the issue by the Army as it concerns the source of the distress report claimed by the army or identity of the complainant which formed the basis of the decision to engage in a hot 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”, the statement added, insisting that such an arrest should have been made public.
The third point of contention in the police rebuttal to the Army is the question of whether the police officers failed to identify themselves as claimed by the Army. On this, Mba says the video on the incident, now said to have gone viral has the voice of one of the soldiers loudly to the effect that the policemen were from the Force Headquarters, Abuja. Arguing that the video voice speaks all the volume, Mba also points at proper knowledge and documentation of the presence of the IRT personnel at the Taraba Police Command, at the State Command Headquarters and also at the Wukari Area Command and the Ibi Divisional Headquarters. And that, as a matter of fact, some of the Detectives from the Taraba State Command’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were part of the operation.
Delivering the moral hammer, the police says it considers it insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic for the Army to continue to describe policemen on lawful national assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’ long after it had become crystal clear that these were law enforcement officers who had gruesomely been murdered in the line of duty by Nigerian soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum.
The statement then asks the Nigerian Army authorities to provide Nigerians with answers on the following questions it says have emanated from their Army’s 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?
The totality of the police position is that the shooting falls into the category of ‘syndicated shooting’ that was planned. Whether this is so or not will become clearer from the net statement by the Army. In other words, the last has not been heard of the matter.
A confounded nation is hoping that this would be thoroughly investigated and quickly resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned even as complicated as it is.