In a dramatic turn of events on Tuesday, soldiers of the Nigerian Army shot and killed three police men who had arrested a notorious kidnapper identified as Alhaji Hamisu in Taraba State and ‘freed’ the kidnapper who is now on the run.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in a statement Wednesday accused some yet to be identified soldiers of killing the three police men and a civilian along Ibi-Jalingo Road in the North Eastern State, while injuring several other officers.
The Police operatives led by ASP Felix Adolije of the Intelligence Response Team reportedly came under sudden attack while taking the kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo.
The Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, explained in a statement the statement that one Police Inspector, two Sergeants and a civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack.
Mba regretted that the soldiers shot the policemen despite sufficient proof that they were on legitimate duty and subsequently released the suspect described as a notorious kidnap kingpin who had 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 where a ransom of about N100m was paid.
“The Police operatives, led by ASP Felix Adolije of the IRT, reportedly came under sudden serious shooting by soldiers of the Nigerian Army along Ibi-Jalingo Road, Taraba State,” Mba stated.
“The Police operatives who were taking the arrested suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo, were shot at several times by the soldiers, despite sufficient proof that they are Police personnel on legitimate duty.
“Three policemen comprising one Inspector and two Sergeants and one civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries, while others sustained serious gunshot wounds.
“The soldiers thereafter released the handcuffed suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, who is now on the run.”
The police spokesman also said the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had ordered the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Medicals to proceed to Jalingo to ensure the treatment of the injured officers, adding that the remains of the deceased had been deposited in the morgue.
However, in a swift reaction through its spokesperson, Col. Sagir Musa, the Nigerian Army said the shooting was done in error and that the police victims had acted like criminals.
“On August 6, 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,” Musa said.
“On the 6th of August 2019, the said Nigerian Army troops, while responding to a distress 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 Nigeria 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 Nigeria Police Force Headquarters thus lending credence to the distress 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.”