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Taraba killings: Army Captain Arrested as Police, Army’s rift deepens

Army hierarchy has arrested the captain who allegedly ordered the killing of three operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at Ibi, Taraba State.

A source, who disclosed this, said the captain was arrested on Saturday by the Army, but was yet to be handed over to the police for interrogation and possible prosecution.

It was also learnt that bodies of three policemen and the civilian have been moved to a mortuary in Abuja.

According to report, the remains of the officers were conveyed to Abuja early yesterday morning. They were moved to Garki General Hospital and kept in a mortuary, waiting to be buried.

The three policemen and the civilian were part of the 10 men who went to Ibi town to arrest an alleged notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume.

Moments after successfully arresting the suspect, the IRT operatives came under a hail of bullets by soldiers at a checkpoint on Ibi-Jalingo Road. The sudden attack on the bus of the operatives caused their vehicle to somersault. While other operatives escaped into the bush, those alive were shot on the stomach and chest by the soldiers, who then tagged them kidnappers. The soldiers then freed Wadume.

Meanwhile, the crack in the relationship between the Nigerian Army and Police may have deepened since the killing of three police operatives by soldiers in Taraba State.

New Telegraph recalls that three police officers attached to the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) – Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa, and a civilian were shot and killed by soldiers in Ibi area of Taraba State.

According to the Police, these members of the special force were killed on their way to Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, shortly after arresting a suspected kidnap kingpin, one Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, said to have been involved in high-profile cases of kidnapping.

The Army, in its reaction, had claimed that the soldiers had mistaken the slain policemen for suspected kidnappers.

There have been no love lost since the tragic incident, as the Police insisted that the killing may have been premeditated.

Signs that all may not be well between the two security agencies emerged at the weekend, when a high-powered investigative team ordered by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, arrived Jalingo.

The panel, which is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigative Department (FCIID), Mr. Mike Ogbizi, commenced work despite the inauguration of a seven-man panel by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin.

In the wake of the Taraba killing, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Defence Headquarters to constitute a panel of investigation, to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident

A statement last Friday by the Acting Director of Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the inauguration of the panel was in compliance with the presidential directive.

According to Nwachukwu, the Joint Investigation Panel, which had membership drawn from the Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), as well as the Defence Intelligence Agency, had commenced work.

It is headed by Rear Admiral IT Olaiya.

A highly-placed source, who spoke in confidence with New Telegraph, said the arrival of DIG Ogbizi-led team in a day the DHQ issued a statement about the constitution of a panel “speaks volumes of the anger over the killing of the highly-trained IRT operatives.”

According to him, “the Police want to get to the root of the murder of their officers and possibly the re-arrest the fleeing kidnap suspect.”

He asked in a rhetorical tone: “Does the labelling of the slain policemen as ‘suspected kidnappers’ by the Army not worry well-meaning people?”

In his reaction, however, the Acting DDI said he was not aware of any parallel panel investigating the killing, other than the one constituted by the DHQ.

“The Joint Investigation Panel convened by the Chief of Defence Staff is in compliance with the directive of the President and the Commander-in-Chief.

“I am not aware of any parallel investigative body. The Nigeria Police and other relevant services are adequately represented in the Joint Investigation Panel,” Nwachukwu said.

Several calls put to the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, for comments were not answered.

Also, text messages sent to them had yet to be responded to as at the time of filing this report.

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