By Ekamma UBA, Assistant Investigator Editor, Lagos.
THE last may not have been heard on the August 6, 2019 dastardly killing of three Police operatives attached to the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team IGP IRT by soldiers attached to 93 Brigade Gume Ibi as the 7 man panel constituted to unravel the immediate and remote cause of the act has indicted Captain Tijani Balarabe of the Nigerian Army, Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP Aondoona Iorbee, Inspector Aliyu Dadje, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed and Corporal Bartholomew Obanye of the Ibi Police Divisional Headquarters. In the wake of the public outcry spewed by the unwarranted killing, President Muhammadu Buhari had called for an inquest into the sad incident; prompting the Defence Headquarters to set up a joint Board of Inquiry to that effect. Recalled that the three Policemen killed were among other officers who had arrested the declared wanted alleged kidnapper, Hamisu Bala alias ‘Why do me’ corrupted for Wadume to Taraba State Police Command Headquarters in Jalingo from Ibi when they were attacked by soldiers at a checkpoint who pursued them and fired into their vehicle killing three of the occupants.
A statement signed by the Defence spokesperson Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu and obtained by CrimeWorld during the week revealed the culpability of the indicted officers even as it recommended that the officers be made to go through what it described as “necessary disciplinary measures.”
Full text of Colonel Nwachukwu’s statement: “Following the directive of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari for an immediate investigation into the unfortunate incident that led to the killing of 3 Nigerian Police Force (NPF) personnel and 2 civilians by troops of the Nigerian Army (NA) along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State, the Chief of Defence Staff General AG Olonisakin constituted a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to investigate the incident. The 7 member BOI led by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Taiwo Olaiya as chairman, comprised one representative each from the Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police and Department of State Service. You will recall that on 6 August 2019, reports of the sad killing of 3 police men and 2 civilians in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State by troops of the NA broke out. “This gave rise to serious concern by the Federal government, the military and police high command. The incident started from Ibi town, following an alarm alleging the kidnap of one Alhaji Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) by some individuals in a Hummer bus. Captain Tijani Balarabe informed all military checkpoints along Ibi-Wukari Road, who sprang into action. The alleged Hummer bus mentioned in the distress call, however, conveyed Police personnel of the IGP-IRT who were on a legitimate duty in Taraba State. Also, military checkpoints in the area were deployed by troops of Headquarters 93 Battalion, Takum, who were equally on legitimate duty to checkmate communal clashes, kidnapping and armed robbery, which were prevalent threats in Wukari Ibi area.
After a thorough and painstaking investigation into the incident, the BOI submitted its report to the convening authority observing that, there were infractions and poor communication between personnel of the NPF and troops of the NA. It was also observed that there was non-adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure by both parties involved in the incident. It further made some recommendations to the NA and NPF to forestall future reoccurrence and bring anyone culpable to book in accordance with extant laws. The BOI also recommended that the NA and NPF should further investigate Captain Tijani Balarabe, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye, DCO Ibi Police Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police Aondoona Iorbee, and Inspector Aliyu Dadje for complacency and necessary disciplinary measures. It was also recommended that further investigation be conducted on Hamisu Bala for gunrunning and possibly kidnapping, in order to prosecute the suspect. Additionally, the BOI recommended that the Services and other security agencies establish an Interagency Liaison Desk to include senior officers for timely resolution of a future misdemeanour.”
Assuring that the sad incident has not in any way affected the cordial working relationship existing between the army and other sister agencies in the country, the statement said, “The Defence Headquarters once again assures the public that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies are working in synergy to tackle contemporary security challenges bedeviling the nation.”
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