Taraba Killings: DHQ Panel Commences Full Sitting Today

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Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The joint panel set up by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) to probe the killing of policemen by soldiers of 93 Battalion, Takum, Taraba State would commence full sitting today in Jalingo, the state capital.

The Rear Admiral IT Olaiya-led panel is expected to receive submissions from parties who witnessed the shooting.
Available videos of the shooting are also expected to be tendered while video evidences are also expected to be tendered before the panel.
A source close to the panel told THISDAY last night that the panel, whose sitting was extended by two weeks in view of the enormity of work before it, would look at some of the trending video evidence of the killings.

THISDAY gathered that intelligence agencies, notably the Department State Services (DSS) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) handled the phone-tracking that revealed the hundreds of chats between kidnap suspect, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume and an army captain in charge of the checkpoint where the shooting took place and a senior police officer who had extensive communications with the suspect.

The panel, which had so far received preliminary evidence and submissions would commence full sitting in Jalingo today.
It is also expected to receive witness submissions from the security operatives around the scene of the shooting and those who are directly connected with the shooting as well as civilian witnesses within the area on the fateful day.

Admiral Olaiya-led panel would also ascertain where the directives and order to fire at the policemen emanated from and weapons removed from the 93 Battalion armoury and whether they were duly registered as required before removal and the bullets discharged before return to the armoury.

“The panel has concluded preliminary investigation and will now commence full sitting. The evidence before the panel is enormous and that is why the sitting is extended. The full sitting will commence today.

“Witnesses are now expected to tender evidence. The intelligence services are also to tender tracked phone call evidence before the panel and further submission from the army and police,” the source said.

According to the source, the panel would also ascertain “who gave the directive to pursue the policemen, who fired the shot that killed the policemen and the weapons used, details of the inventory and how they were moved from the armoury and their state on return to the armoury”.

The killing of the detectives had drawn wide condemnations from Nigerians. The policemen, who had arrested a kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume and placed him in handcuffs and manacles, had come under a hail of bullets from soldiers along Ibi-Jalingo Road while taking the suspect to the Taraba State Police Command in Jalingo.

The Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) operating from the office of the Inspector-General of Police was led by ASP Felix Adolije.
Other members of the team included Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa and a civilian while others sustained gunshot wounds.

The DHQ panel has a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Service (DSS) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Over 20 army and police personnel were arrested over the killing while over 200 phone chats between the kidnap suspect and army and police personnel were tracked.