Police yesterday accused soldiers of killing three police officers and a civilian at Ibi town in Taraba State.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, who made the disclosure in a statement, said the officers, who were attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), were on an operation to arrest a suspected kidnap kingpin, identified as Alhaji Hamisu.
He said the operatives – an inspector and two sergeants – were allegedly attacked by soldiers on their way to the Taraba State Police Command, where they were scheduled to report the successful arrest of the suspect.
According to Mba, the shooting incident occurred despite proper “proof” that the policemen were on a legitimate operation.
This was as he added that the suspect was subsequently set free.
Consequently, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the tragic incident.
“The Inspector-General of Police has ordered full-fledged investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of three police operatives and one civilian, and serious injury to other police operatives, who were on investigation activities to Ibi, Taraba State, to arrest Alhaji Hamisu indicted in a series of high-profile kidnap incidents in the state.
“The police operatives, led by ASP Felix Adolije of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), reportedly came under sudden attack and serious shooting by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, along Ibi-Jalingo Road, Taraba State.
“The 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 and one civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack while others sustained serious gunshot wounds. The soldiers thereafter released the handcuffed suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, who is now on the run.
“Alhaji Hamisu, a notorious kidnap kingpin, has 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 wherein a ransom of about N100 million was paid.
“The IG has ordered the AIG medicals to proceed to Jalingo to ensure concerted efforts in the treatment of the injured police officers. The remains of the deceased have been deposited in the morgue.
“Meanwhile, the Force has commenced full investigation into the bizarre and unfortunate incident.”
Reacting to the allegation that soldiers killed three policemen, who went to arrest a kidnap kingpin, the Nigerian Army has described the incident as quite unfortunate and could have been avoided through proper coordination.
The Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said in a statement that the soldiers were troops of 93 Battalion Nigerian Army, Takum.
He noted that the soldiers pursued and exchanged fire with people believed to be suspected kidnappers.
They were later discovered to be policemen attached to IRT, from Abuja on a covert assignment.
Musa further explained that the incident occurred after the soldiers responded to a distress call to rescue a kidnapped victim.
He said: “The suspected kidnappers numbering about 10 and driving in a white bus with registration number 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 are 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 Abuja for a covert assignment.”
-New Tel

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