The authorities must use the Taraba killing of three special police officers on a crucial assignment to address existential animosity amongst the various security agencies in the country, writes Olawale Olaleye
The trio of Inspector Mark Edaile and Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa had two Wednesdays ago, left for a covert operation in Jalingo, Taraba State, as they were wont to do most of the time before their untimely killing.
But it did not strike them in whatever form or shape that it would be their last. It was not that their intuitive perception had failed them. They simply had no cause to worry as everything till that moment had seemed right and in line with plans.
Just as they were about to seal their victory on this particular assignment, something unintended crept in, which not only disrupted the entire operation and the success hitherto recorded, but also took their lives prematurely.
The trio of this specially trained police officers – some of its finest in high profile operations – had succeeded in arresting one of the wanted kidnappers in the country, who while helping with investigations, identified one Alhaji Hamisu Bala otherwise called “why do you mean” but mistaken for “Wadume” as their leader.
A new phase of investigations took off from there with the fellow helping every step of the way. After establishing contact with Hamisu and an appointment secured, the police made their way to his location, where the fellow identified him and a new trick employed by the special agents, who pretended to want to sell a bus.
Hamisu indicated interest, came around to inspect the bus for sale and he was right there arrested, having identified themselves as police officers. Handcuffed and legs chained, he managed to stretch out his head through the window and screamed kidnap.
Alerted, his men began a chase of the officers and also contacted their soldier ally, who in turn called the officers on the third and last checkpoint to be crossed before leaving Ibi-Jalingo road. The soldiers at the checkpoint succeeded in bringing down the bus, deliberately killed the three officers as instructed by their boss and rescued their business partner, Hamisu, who has since been at large.
Of course, the development has caused deserving outrage with more questions than answers. One of the questions that could not exonerate the soldiers from their excuse of mistaken identity was how those policemen died during the attack and Hamisu escaped.
It simply means they could identify Hamisu and protected him during the attack. By the way, how did Hamisu eventually escape from the scene to safety while officers of the police died the most horrendous death? Truth is, he was allegedly taken out of town in a red car provided by the soldiers, according to sources, before eventually reclining to his haven.
Some have also asked: why didn’t the police inform the soldiers or other sister agencies in the town about their covert operations? They asked these questions because that is the normal practice in sane climes. Interestingly, this development has answered that question without equivocation.
Isn’t it clear that Hamisu had the soldiers and perhaps, other security agencies in that town in his pocket? Had they informed them of their planned operations, they would have leaked the information to Hamisu and his boys and their visit to the town would have been a waste of time and resources!
Again, such a situation could have put the life of their principal but helpful and cooperative suspect in danger. This is because in the case of a high profile criminal with such a keen network particularly, with security operatives, informants are usually wasted to protect the “main man”.
Although the Army was recently reported to have arrested the officer, who ordered the killing of the policemen, having established that he was in close touch with the criminal, it is clear that the kidnap business of Hasmisu is a solid ring that must be unraveled.
The killing of those officers is evidently inexplicable. This is why the authorities must do everything to dig deeper and expose the underhand. The development is not only embarrassing, but it is also shameful that agencies of government under President Muhammadu Buhari would rather see themselves as rivals and not partners.
This has remained the situation between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Security (DSS), even though the no-love-lost relationship between the police and the army is age-long.
Certainly, nothing has been done to close this ugly gap and improve operations as well as their work relationship. But development as dastardly as this is heartbreaking and a timely signal of the other dangers that might be lurking around. This is because as it stands today, nothing can explain away or justify the killing of those police officers.
To move past this ugly situation and make it a stifling example, investigations into the killing must be thorough and conclusive and actions commensurate with this level of bestiality must be applied, much as such cannot completely heal the attendant hurt; it could stem the tide of deliberate infractions and man’s inhumanity to man especially, within the security setup.
This madness in the name of rivalry amongst the agencies has gone on for too long. That it could cause the death of three hard-working officers in the manner it did and in the name of mistaken identity is the reason the government must show leadership by stepping in and changing the tide for good otherwise the worst may not have happened yet.