Taraba 3: Surviving police officer relates encounter with killer soldiers

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*Inspector general of police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai

Soldiers warned to be careful with the police

One of the police officers who survived the attack by soldiers of 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Taraba State on Tuesday, August 6 has attributed his escape to divine intervention.

It would be recalled that the Intelligence Response Team of the Police, led by ASP Felix Adolije, came under attack from soldiers along Ibi-Jalingo Road while taking a kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu, popularly called Wadume, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo.

Three officers — Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa, as well as a civilian died, while others sustained gunshot wounds during the incident.

The Nigerian Army had claimed that the soldiers fired at the IRT team because they failed to stop at three checkpoints but the police dismissed the explanation and demanded from the military authorities the whereabouts of the kidnap suspect, Hamisu Bala popularly called Wadume, who was allegedly set free by the soldiers.

Explaining his escape in an interview, one of the wounded police officers who had since been moved to Abuja where he is nursing a gunshot wound he sustained in the attack, said a soldier suggested that he should also be killed in order to truncate any evidence against them.

However, he said a counter order from one of the senior officers and the presence of villagers at the scene saved him from being killed.

“My escape from death was God’s divine intervention. We had succeeded in arresting the kidnap kingpin. His legs and hands were cuffed and we put him in our vehicle as we drove off. ‘’We passed the first and second check points successfully. Besides, when going, we greeted the soldiers at the check points and even offered one of them doughnut. But when we got to the third check point, we discovered that a military Hilux van was following us. We were not driving fast; we were even waiting for them to overtake us when all of a sudden, they opened fire on our vehicle.

“In the process, the vehicle somersaulted, a bullet hit me in the leg. But I struggled to run into the bush with some of my colleagues. From a distance, I watched how they (soldiers) killed my colleagues in execution style, even when they explained that they were policemen.

“Thereafter, one of them said they should comb the bush for those that ran inside. I crawled in pains, and tried to hide but they caught up with me. One o f them said they should shoot me dead, that if they left me alive, I would speak out.

“But a Lieutenant among them said they should take me to the hospital. I commend him because but for his counter order, I would have been killed as well. By then, villagers had come out and started videoing the process. One of them even said it would be unwise to kill me since the villagers were also videoing the scene with their phones. I also saw when the soldiers carried the arrested suspect into their Hilux van and drove off.”

Meanwhile, the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has warned military personnel to wear mufti to avoid confrontation with the police.

He gave the warning in a circular entitled ‘Need for troops to be circumspect in dealing with members of the Nigeria Police,’ in the wake of the Taraba killing.

The letter, with reference number AHQDAIOPS/G3/240/232 and written by Brig. Gen. F. Omoigui for Buratai reads in part: “In the aftermath of the unfortunate incident involving troops of 93 bn, Takum and members of the Intelligence Response Team of the NPF at Ibi LGA of Taraba State on August 6, 2019, inciting and inflammatory comments are being made by the NPF on the regular and social media platforms.

“This is capable of inciting the rank and file of the NP to exhibit aggressive tendencies against NA personnel. Accordingly, all troops on IS (Internal Security) duty as well as personnel travelling in and out of uniform are to be circumspect in their conduct to avoid escalation.

“Consequently, formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings with members of the NP in view of this development. Troops travelling on pass are to endeavor to do so in mufti.”

Meanwhile, one of the surviving policemen said in an interview that his escape was divine.

“My escape from death was God’s divine intervention. We had succeeded in arresting the kidnap kingpin. His legs and hands were cuffed and we put him in our vehicle as we drove off. ‘’We passed the first and second check points successfully. Besides, when going, we greeted the soldiers at the check points and even offered one of them doughnut. But when we got to the third check point, we discovered that a military Hilux van was following us. We were not driving fast; we were even waiting for them to overtake us when all of a sudden, they opened fire on our vehicle.

“In the process, the vehicle somersaulted, a bullet hit me in the leg. But I struggled to run into the bush with some of my colleagues. From a distance, I watched how they (soldiers) killed my colleagues in execution style, even when they explained that they were policemen.

“Thereafter, one of them said they should comb the bush for those that ran inside. I crawled in pains, and tried to hide but they caught up with me. One o f them said they should shoot me dead, that if they left me alive, I would speak out. “But a Lieutenant among them said they should take me to the hospital. I commend him because but for his counter order, I would have been killed as well. By then, villagers had come out and started videoing the process. One of them even said it would be unwise to kill me since the villagers were also videoing the scene with their phones. I also saw when the soldiers carried the arrested suspect into their Hilux van and drove off.”

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