The Nigeria Police Force has refuted the official account of the Nigerian Army regarding the killing of three police officers by soldiers in Taraba State on Wednesday, accusing the military service of misrepresenting the incident.
The police expressed its position in a statement issued by Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer, on Thursday.
In a statement issued by Colonel Sagir Musa, acting Director of Army Public Relations, the army had claimed that the police officers were mistaken for suspected kidnappers as their vehicle refused to stop for inspection at three checkpoints before the exchange of fire confrontation at Biu.
The military service said the death of the three operatives of the police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT): Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa and Inspector Mark Ediale, could have been averted if there was proper communication between them and the police.
But responding, the police accused the army of being economical with the truth, saying the army’s justification of what it described as the unprovoked and unwarranted attack on the police operatives was a distortion of facts.
The force raised five questions, prominent among them was for the army to disclose the location of Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, whom it described as a “millionaire kidnapper” it arrested but was reportedly freed by soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum.
The statement read: “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!”
The force insisted that, contrary to the army’s claims, the operatives identified themselves as members of the police deployed from the force headquarters, adding that a now-viral video substantiates the operatives’ action.
“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 statement read.
The police also berated the army for referring to its operatives as “suspected kidnappers” in its press release, calling the description as insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic.
It also noted that it was ridiculous that the army did not take Wadume for debriefing since he claimed he was kidnapped, but rather released him.
“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 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?” the statement asked.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ordered the Defence headquarters to investigate the incident.