It is a universal standard and highly-cherished practice that when a matter is either in a law court or has an ‘Inquiry Panel’ constituted and saddled by a President, or any other superior authority (to probe an unfortunate development), parties affiliated to the ‘contentious or controversial’ issue, are expected to maintain the ‘status quo ante’. In explicit terms, they are strongly prohibited from engaging in practices or issue statements that may ‘prejudiced’ the verdict, findings or judgement to be delivered by a ‘learned’ judge or the ‘eminent’ panel.
But the spirit and letters of the ‘referenced’ best global practice, perhaps may not have resonated well with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). Or, maybe, just maybe, they choose to feign ignorance about it. Or again, like a ‘motor park tout’, they threw caution to the dogs and decided to recklessly abuse and bastardize the age-long cum noble principle. Otherwise, why should they not only arrest (and wait for Presidential Investigation Panel constituted to probe the incident), but ‘forcefully’ compelled the kidnapping warlord, Hamisu Bala Wadume, to ‘pour out’ scripted tales from the pit of hell, that the troops of the Nigerian Army who allegedly killed three of IRT personnel, proceeded to release him not minding the fact that he is a must-wanted criminal?
But before other ‘piercing’ questions, hear the notorious Wadume in a 40-second video after he was re-arrested, and thereafter paraded on Tuesday at the Force Headquarters. “I am Hamisu Bala Wadume. Policemen came to Ibbi and arrested me.
They were taking me away, when soldiers shot at their vehicles. Some policemen lost their lives in the process. They then took me to their military headquarters and cut my handcuffs. Since then, I have been hiding before the police re-arrested me,” he confessed.
Now, the billion-dollar questions ‘desperately’ seeking convincing and logical answers from the Police. Why usurp the statutory role of the Presidential Committee set up by the Defence Headquarters? Why, like the pacy ‘Cheetah,’ speedily rushed to issue a ‘puerile’ statement that a neutral body already set up will make? And even that will be after the empaneled Committee has carried out a dilligent and thorough investigation on the incident? Will one be right to say there may be a sinister agenda for the hasty release, carried out by a party involved in the ruckus (which summarily indicted the other party)?
Or should Nigerians, like an impartial arbiter, believed hook, line, and sinker, the statement of Wadume in the ‘tele-scripted’ he acted, and disregard the ‘empirical’ findings to be released by the more credible and unbiased Investigation Committee?
Wait! Is the hurry in pre-empting the verdicts of the Committee, rational and justifiable even in the court of public opinion? If the Nigerian Army has kept a sealed lip, since its helmsman, Lieutenant-General Tukur issued a statement of not only condemning the ‘bizarre’ incident, but also condoling with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and NPF in general; why should the Police resort to unnecessary media trial?
Why should they not eschew sponsoring media attacks and campaign of calumny, in a bid to curry public sympathy or perhaps, whip up baseless sentiments against the other party?
Lest we forget! The mode adopted by the Police is diametrically questionable. Why should the Police, in a matter that both they and the Army are trading blames, alone, parade Wadume without inviting officials or representatives of the Army or perhaps other sister enforcement agencies for the briefing? Only unrepentant critics, will wholly accept the ‘judgement’ of the press statement the Police issued while parading Wadume.
Why? Can one draw a line between the stance of the Police (that the Army killed their personnel and set free Wadume) immediately after the August 6 incident, and the statement they issued just yesterday? The aforementioned posers may need timely responses from the Police force. Gaskiya! But as we eagerly await the lucid answers, it is not lot too late for the NPF hierarchy to beat a hasty retreat and retract their one-sided press statement—to avoid preempting the Investigation Committee’s ultimate findings.
They should, as a respected institution, not flout extant procedures of fact-finding and conducting probe in a contentious matter. Security agencies in any nation are expected to foster the spirit of teamwork and inter-agency collaboration. They should, like bread and butter, form an impregnable synergy, and assist one another with a view to actualizing broad-based objective of securing the nation from criminal-minded elements. This is the important recipe that forestall against them working at cross purposes.
But in the event that one vital organ of a country’s security agencies decide to ‘walk solo’–like the Police is doing–what will happen? Your guess, may just be as good as that of any rational and objective mind.
•Mahmud writes from Abuja.