- Bodies of slain policemen arrive Abuja hospital
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The police and the military are in a race to recapture the suspected kidnap kingpin in Taraba State, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, albeit for different reasons, THISDAY investigations have revealed.
Wadume escaped from police custody last week when soldiers shot at a team of policemen from a special squad that came from Abuja to arrest him, killing three of the 10-member crew.
Already, two panels have been set up to probe the incident; one by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Police and another one by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).
However, sources said the setting up of the two panels, whose members, analysts say, might be working at cross-purposes because they allegedly have different agenda, was compounding the investigation.
A security source told THISDAY that what should have been set up was either a presidential panel or a judicial panel of enquiry to guard against the two panels working at cross-purposes.
It was also gathered that the bodies of the slain policemen have arrived Garki Hospital, Abuja, in preparation for their burial.
The bodies are those of Inspector Mark Edaile, from Edo State; Sergeant Usman Danzumi and Sergeant Dahiru Musa both of whom are from Taraba State as well as those of three other deceased victims.
THISDAY gathered that in spite of the constitution of a panel by the DHQ to unravel the circumstances surrounding the killing of the policemen by soldiers attached to 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Takum, Taraba State, the army and police were in a hot race to rearrest him.
Wadume, by the account of the police, was arrested in Jalingo and was being taken to the Jalingo Police Command for questioning before soldiers intercepted the police squad, killed some of the members before setting him free.
A top police officer who shed light on the alleged motives of both the army and the police in ensuring that either of them recapture the suspect first, said: “As it is now, the police are keen on recapturing the suspect whom you know we initially arrested before soldiers eliminated the policemen in charge of the investigation. So, the point is that the police need to recapture him and elicit vital information from him but that is not the same target of the army.
“The fear is that the army may not want him to reveal some information about the circumstances that led to his rescue by those soldiers who killed the policemen. So, they are running at cross-purposes as it is presently.”
Prodded to speak on the investigation, Force spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), said he would not want to do so in order not to jeopardise the investigation”.
“You know we don’t want to talk about it for now. You know there are moves to ensure that we won’t get him too so we need to keep things under wraps,” he said.
On the joint investigation panel, he was non-committal, saying that there is a different spokesman for the panel.
Army spokesman, Col. Musa Sagir, declined to speak on the matter when contacted by THISDAY.
But a military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, traced the suspicion between the police and the army team in Taraba to the crisis between Junkun and Kuteb tribes as well as the Ibi-Wukari crisis, which had made the place volatile, becoming a hub for movement of arms.
“This must have been the reason for the suspicion between the two teams. Because of the secrecy of their mission, they (the police) were not willing to disclose the identity of the suspect in their custody. Because of the volatile nature of the area, the soldiers were not also willing to believe their story and that created suspicion and shooting.
“I believe the suspect is not far since he was in handcuffs after the police arrested him and I believe the joint panel will get him,” the source said.
He also corroborated claims by other sources that the two panels were bound to work at cross-purposes.
“The army will not believe the outcome of the police panel and the police will not even be comfortable with that of the joint panel because it is more of a military affair by its headship. I believe the president should have set up a presidential or judicial panel, a neutral panel,” the military source added.
The panel set up by the Inspector General of Police is led by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mr. Mike Ogbizi, while the DHQ panel is headed by Rear Admiral I.T. Olaiya and has a representatives each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Meanwhile, the remains of the policemen killed in Taraba State have arrived Garki Hospital, Abuja in preparation for their burial.
An ambulance conveying the remains of the policemen arrived the hospital yesterday.
The bodies were deposited in the hospital mortuary in preparations for their burial.
The slain policemen were said to have participated in the arrest of Umar Abdulmalik, the overall Boko Haram Commander in the North-central Nigeria and several members of his group.
They also participated in the arrest of the kidnappers of two American and two Canadian citizens in Kaduna State and most recently, the rescue of Magajin Garin Daura in Kano State and arrest of the 13 terrorists responsible for the kidnapping of the Magajin Garin Daura in his home town Daura, Katsina State on 1st May 2019 as well as the 22 terrorists who participated in the kidnap of Chibok girls among many others.