Unidentified soldiers on Tuesday opened fire on a team of policemen taking a suspected kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu, into custody, killing three policemen and severely injuring others in Taraba State.
Led by ASP Felix Adolije, the policemen attached to the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team had arrested the kingpin and were taking him to the headquarters of the state command in Jalingo when the soldiers opened fire on them on Ibi-Jalingo Road.
According to the spokesman for the Nigeria Police, Frank Mba, the team “came under sudden attack and serious shooting by soldiers of the Nigerian Army.”
Despite knowing that the policemen were on legitimate duty, the soldiers shot at them, killing one inspector, two other policemen and a civilian.
The soldiers thereafter released the suspect who disappeared from the scene.
An AIG has been sent to the state capital to co-ordinate the treatment of the injured officers while the bodies of the deceased have been deposited at a morgue.
The shocking incident is already under investigation.
The suspect was said to have been involved in several kidnap cases including that of an oil dealers who had to part with N1 million to regain his freedom.
However, the Nigerian Army in a statement by its spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, gave a different version of the incident.
It reads: “The attention of the Army Headquarters has been drawn to the Press Release by DCP Frank Mba 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 check points. 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 sporadicaly thus prompting them to return fire.
In the resultant fire fight, 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.”