•Force PRO, Frank Mba
The Nigeria police Force, through its spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, has said that soldiers killed three officers of the Force and a civilian in Taraba State.
In a statement on Wednesday, DCP Mba said that the three officers were killed while on investigative activities within the Ibi area of Taraba.
The Nigerian Army, however, has responded, claiming that the soldiers mistook the slain policemen and civilians for kidnappers.
The police public relations officer said that the police officers had gone to arrest a certain Alhaji Hamisu who was indicted in a series of high-profile kidnap incidents in the state.
Mr. Mba stated that the Police operatives, led by ASP Felix Adolije of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), reportedly came under sudden attack and serious shooting by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, along Ibi–Jalingo Road, as they were taking the arrested suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo.
The police spokesman said the operatives were shot at severally by the soldiers despite sufficient proof that they are police personnel on a legitimate duty.
“Three Policemen (comprising one Inspector and two Sergeants) and one civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack while others sustained serious gunshot wounds. The soldiers thereafter released the handcuffed suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, who is now on the run,” Mba said.
He further stressed that Alhaji Hamisu is a notorious kidnap kingpin, who has been on the Police wanted list for his complicity in several high profile kidnap cases including the recent abduction of an oil mogul in Taraba State, wherein a ransom of about N100m was paid.
According to the police spokesman, the IGP has ordered the AIG, Medicals to proceed to Jalingo to ensure concerted efforts at the treatment of the injured police officers, adding that the remains of the deceased have been deposited in the morgue.
A full investigation into the incident has also been ordered by the Inspector-General of Police, M. A. Adamu.
On its part, the Nigerian Army on Wednesday evening explained the circumstances that led to the killing of three police officers and a civilian by soldiers in Taraba State, describing the tragic incident as unfortunate.
Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said in a statement that the victims were mistaken to be kidnappers and were killed during exchange of gunfire.
Musa said that the incident would be fully investigated and assured that efforts were being made to avoid a repeat.
Below is the text of the statement:
“The attention of the Army Headquarters has been drawn to the Press Release by
DCP FRANK MBA, FORCE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER, FORCE HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA Ref No. CZ.5300/FPRD/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.2/68 Date: 7th August, 2019 on the unfortunate incident that occurred on the 6th of August 2019 in which troops of 93 Battalion Nigerian Army Takum pursued and exchanged fire with some suspected Kidnappers who indeed turned out to be an Intelligence Response Team from the Police Force Headquarters Abuja on a covert assignment from Abuja resulting in the death and injury of some members of the Team.
“On the 6th of August 2019, the said Nigerian Army troops, while responding to a distressed call to rescue a kidnapped victim exchanged fire with the suspected kidnappers along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State.
“The suspected kidnappers numbering about ten (10) and driving in a white bus with Reg No LAGOS MUS 564 EU refused to stop when they were halted by troops at three consecutive checkpoints. The flagrant refusal of the suspected kidnappers to stop at the three checkpoints prompted a hot pursuit of the fleeing suspects by the troops. It was in this process that the suspected kidnappers who were obviously armed opened fire at the troops sporadically thus prompting them to return fire.
“In the resultant firefight, four (4) suspects were shot and died on the spot while four (4) others sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds and 2 others reportedly missing. It was only after this avoidable outcome that one of the wounded suspects disclosed the fact that they were indeed Policemen dispatched from Nigerian Police, Force Headquarters, Abuja for a covert assignment.
“However, following inquiries from a Police Station officer who was asked by the commander of the Army troops whether he was aware of any Nigerian Police team being dispatched to operate in the LGA, the Divisional Police Officer of Ibi Police Division responded that he was not informed about any operation by the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters thus lending credence to the distressed call from members of the community that the suspects who turned out to be Policemen on a covert mission were rather suspected kidnappers.
“This incident is indeed quite unfortunate and could have been avoided through proper coordination and liaison 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 of which the Nigerian Police is the lead Agency.
“In order to avert future occurrences of this nature, the Army Headquarters and the Force Headquarters of the Nigerian Police have agreed to constitute a Joint lnvestigation Panel to be headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation Department, DIG Mike Ogbizi, to jointly investigate and report on the true circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident. Therefore, until the Joint Investigation Panel concludes and submits its report, it will be premature to officially conclude and speak on the real circumstances that caused this unfortunate but very avoidable unfortunate incident.”
Source: News Express and ChannelsTV