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Lagos, NG
28th January 2023

Taraba: Police accused Army of aiding the escape of a kidnap kingpin

Gunmen kidnap Irrua Specialist Hospital CMD, kill 2 policemen
Gunmen kidnap Irrua Specialist Hospital CMD, kill 2 policemen

The Nigerian Police has released a statement where it accused the Nigerian Army of allegedly aiding the escape of a notorious kidnapper in Taraba State, and killing three of it’s personnel and injuring some.

The Police which was reacting to the statement credited to the Nigerian Army, where they gave their own account on what happened in Taraba State, faulted their claims, calling it unpatriotic, unprofessional and insensitive to describe policemen on lawful national assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’ long after it had become crystal clear to the army that the victims were on lawful
assignment in Taraba State.

The statement which was released by the Police Public Relations Officer, Frank MBA, DSP, raised some questions they are asking the Nigerian Army to give answers to, with the headline saying:

“Setting the record straight”, asked the Nigerian Army authorities to explain the whereabouts of a kidnap suspect,known as Alhaji Hamish Bala Wadume, who was set free after the killing of the policemen.

The full statement read thus:

“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to the Press Release by the Nigerian Army dated 07 August, 2019, seeking to justify the unprovoked and unwarranted murder of three police officers and one civilian, and serious injury to other operatives, who were on legitimate criminal investigation activities to Taraba State, to arrest one Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume indicted in a series of high-profile kidnap incidents in the state.

“In the best tradition of esprit de corps, inter-agency harmony and national interest, the Nigeria Police Force would naturally have kept quiet, but it has become imperative to set the record straight by addressing the obvious distortion of facts inherent in the press release by the Nigerian Army.

The most important question arising from the Nigerian Army Press Release is:

Where is Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume? Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a millionaire kidnapper arrested by the Police but paradoxically treated as a ‘‘kidnap victim’’ by the Soldiers and subsequently ‘rescued’ by them. Where is he? Where is the rescued kidnapper?

“Secondly, the press release was silent on the source of the alleged distress report or identity of the complainant, on the strength of whose report, the Army claimed had informed their decision to engage in the purported chase and rescue operation.

Needless to state that in the true spirit of transparency and accountability, the Nigerian Army ought to have arrested the purported distress caller – if any – for obviously and deliberately furnishing them with false and misleading information. Besides, such arrest should in fact be made public!

“Thirdly, it is not true that the Policemen failed to identify themselves as alleged in the Press Release. The video on the incident, now viral, wherein the voice of one of the soldiers was heard loudly proclaiming that the Policemen were from the Force Headquarters, Abuja speaks volume.

“Besides, the presence of the IRT personnel was well known to the Taraba Police Command as the Operatives officially and properly documented not only at the State Command Headquarters but also at the Wukari Area Command and the Ibi Divisional Headquarters. ” As a matter of fact, some of the Detectives from the Taraba State Command’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were part of the operation.

“The Force also considers it insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic for the Press Release by the Army to continue to describe Policemen on lawful National Assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’ long after it had become crystal clear to the Army that these are Law Enforcement Officers who unfortunately were gruesomely murdered in the line of duty by Nigerian soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum.

“In the final analysis, we leave the Nigerian Army authorities to provide Nigerians with answers on the following questions emanating from their Press Release: Where is the notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume ‘rescued’ by the soldiers? ” How and why was Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume released by the soldiers? How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers?

“If Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a victim of kidnap’’ as claimed, and properly rescued by soldiers, why was he not taken to the Army Base for documentation purposes and debriefing in line with the Standard Operating Procedure in the Nigerian Army? “Why were the Police Operatives shot at close range even after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation?” the statement said.

The statement released by the Nigerian Army giving account of the incident in Taraba State as issued by Colonel Sagir Musa Acting Director Army Public Relations , said:

“We read police state on the  unfortunate incident that occurred on August 6, 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.

The suspected kidnappers numbering 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 fire fight,  four suspects were shot and died on the spot while four others  sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds and two 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” he said.


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