Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday set up a 7-man joint investigation panel to look into the killing of three policemen by soldiers in Taraba.
The death of the police officers had ignited a war of words between the Police authorities and the Army. The Police High Command had berated the Army for referring to the slain officers as “suspected kidnappers” in a statement it issued on Wednesday, describing the press statement as “unpatriotic and disrespectful.”
The police had also raised posers concerning the whereabouts of a kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala Wadume, who was initially arrested by the police, but later freed after the soldiers had killed the police operatives, described as the best detectives in the force, who had participated in major operational breakthroughs including the arrest of kidnap kingpin, Evans, the rescue of Magajin Daura and the arrest of 22 Boko Haram operatives and commanders involved in the kidnap of Chibok girls.
Defence Spokesman, Col Onyema Nwachukwu, said in the statement that the joint investigation team was in compliance with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to that effect.
The statement added: “The investigation panel is headed by Rear Admiral IT Olaiya and has a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce the Nigeria Police, Department of State Service and the Defence Intelligence Agency”.
Nwachukwu explained that the joint committee had commenced work immediately.
The Police had on Thursday raised questions about the killing of the police officers and the whereabouts of the arrested kidnap kingpin.
“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?”, Force Spokesman, DCP Frank Mba”, the police further queried.