…You’re Insensitive, Unpatriotic-FPRO
… Buhari Orders Probe
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the full revelation of the circumstances surrounding the killing of three police officers recently by the Nigerian Army in Taraba state.
While expectations are mounting on the Federal Government to bring the perpetrators of the dastardly act to book, the Security Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday held a closed doors meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja and set up a committee to investigate what they described as ’unfortunate killing’ of the three police intelligence officers in Ibi, Jalingo, Taraba state.
However, in swift reaction, the Police authorities said the Army was economical with the truth surrounding the killing of its personnel.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while speaking with newsmen yesterday in Abuja with State House correspondents, said that the council decided to set up a committee to investigate the “unfortunate incidents in Ibi, Taraba state.”
According to him, the committee will be constituted under the Defence Headquarters to unearth the truth on the incident.
The air chief also said that the council evaluated the current strategy of managing internal security operations all over the country and was satisfied with the current efforts being made by the security agencies to curtailing crimes in the country.
”We are making substantial progress in all the areas of conflicts”, Air Marshal Sadique said.
The service chief, however, assured Nigerians that the armed forces of Nigeria and other security agencies would continue to work to ensure the security of Nigerian.
He added they would also ensure that no individual or group of individuals undermine the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Asked if the council discussed the issue of using technology and drones to fight crimes as earlier pledged to the south-west leaders, the Chief of Air Staff said, ”technology will continue to play a very critical role in resolving security challenges in Nigeria.
“All the services are using one technology or the other in order to ensure that our country is secured.
“So security will continue to play a role and we are also looking at other areas of technology that are not currently in use to ensure that we put together all that is required to ensure the security of Nigerian and Nigerians.”
Recalled that the Nigeria Police Force had Wednesday, accused some unidentified soldiers of shooting to death three police officers and a civilian along the Ibi-Jalingo Road, Taraba State when they were taking an arrested suspect, Alhaji Hamisu to the command headquarters in Jalingo when they were shot at by the soldiers.
The police spokesman said that despite sufficient proof that they are police personnel on legitimate duty.
The Police alleged that several other officers were also injured during the attack.
But the Army spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, countered the police claims stating that the policemen allegedly refused to stop at a military checkpoint and were trailed and shot dead by troops who had earlier received a distress call.
Apparently not satisfied with the steps taken by the Security Council, the Police, also yesterday, ramped up public criticism of the Nigerian Army over the killing of three officers, saying the Army authorities lied.
The officers were on an operation to arrest a suspected kidnap gang leader in a remote settlement in the northeastern state. After successfully apprehending the suspect, the police officers handcuffed him and drove him towards Jalingo, the state capital, police said.
But on their way to Jalingo between, Ibi and Wukari communities, the police team of 10 persons came under close-ranging shooting from Nigerian soldiers in the white bus they were travelling on. Three officers and a civilian were killed in the process, while several others were injured.
The soldiers then freed the handcuffed suspect, police spokesperson Frank Mba said when he first made the development public on Wednesday evening.
The Nigerian Army pushed back against the account of the police late Wednesday. Army spokesperson Sagir Musa admitted soldiers from 93 Battalion were responsible for the tragedy. He, however, blamed it on poor communication on the part of the police, saying the officers were mistaken for kidnappers.
The army also claimed that villagers made a panic call to soldiers that kidnappers had come to operate in their community, leading to the hot pursuit that ended in the killing of three police officers.
Although an investigative panel had been raised to urgently get to the root of the incident, the police appeared uncomfortable with how the matter was being handled.
On Thursday evening, Mr Mba condemned the army’s description of their personnel as suspected kidnappers and challenged the military to provide evidence of its claim that villagers made a distress call to soldiers.
Mba also raised a series of questions for the Nigerian Army to clarify to Nigerians around its culpability in the killing of detectives.
Security analysts said the strongly-worded public attacks the police have been directing at the army showed that President Muhammadu Buhari was not handling the issue well and the police felt helpless.
“For the police to be releasing statements to the media and coming to Twitter to scream about this showed they are helpless and not getting the support they need from the president,” Cheta Nwanze, a security analyst, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday.
Nwanze urged Mr Buhari to urgently resolve the dispute, saying Nigeria cannot afford a total breakdown of harmony between the police and the military, perhaps the two most crucial institutions combatting the country’s acute insecurity.
The analyst also expressed concerns that the rescue of the kidnap suspect, now believed to be at large, by the soldiers could signal high-level connivance between criminals and security chiefs.
The suspect, identified as Alhaji Hamisu, had reportedly received N100 million as ransom in a recent abduction of an oil baron in Taraba.