The Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has ordered the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Takum, Taraba State, to produce fugitive kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, as evidence that its soldiers are not complicit in his escape after they killed three policemen and a civilian at a checkpoint in Ibi, last Tuesday.
A top military source at the DHQ disclosed this to the Punch on Monday.
The top military source said, “The panel may not commence serious activities until after the Eid-el Kabir break. The Army had directed the battalion in Takum to produce the runaway kidnapper as evidence that its soldiers are not culpable.
“The military will not hesitate to dismiss and court-martial any soldier found to be involved in shady business than allow the reputation of the Army to be toyed with.”
The Nigerian Army headquarters has also confirmed that the captain who ordered the killing of the policemen and the civilian was being cross-examined at the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, in Taraba State.
Meanwhile, the arrested soldiers involved in the shootings have been moved to Abuja, according to the top police source on Monday night.
According to the report, some police officers from Ibi division and other civilians who arrived early at the scene of the incident were also moved to Abuja to furnish the seven-man joint investigation panel about what transpired during the incident.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the Defence headquarters to set up the panel to probe into the tragedy.
The DHQ had on Friday named a seven-man joint investigation panel, headed by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Olaiya, which has officers drawn from the army, navy, air force, police, the Department of State Services and the Defence Intelligence Agency.The Intelligence Response Team of the police led by ASP Felix Adolije had come under attack from soldiers along the Ibi-Jalingo Road while taking a kidnap kingpin, Wadume, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo.
Three police officers, Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi, Dahiru Musa and a civilian –died as a result of gunshot injuries.
The Nigerian Army had claimed that the soldiers fired at the IRT team because they failed to stop at three checkpoints.
This claim was rebuffed by the police, saying their men properly identified themselves but were nevertheless killed. They also demanded the whereabouts of the kidnap suspect who was allegedly freed by the soldiers, if the army claims to have acted in good faith.
The Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum in a statement on Monday urged President Buhari to ensure that the soldiers that killed three police officers and a civilian were punished according to the law.
The Forum chairman, Seriake Dickson, who is also the Bayelsa State Governor, condemned the killing of the police officers and that of a commercial motorcyclist in Abia State, Mr Chimaobi Nwogu, allegedly by another soldier identified as Cpl. Ajayi Johnson.
He said, “We wish to reiterate that the killings are unnecessary. It is very pathetic that the Nigerian Army would abandon its constitutional role of defending the borders of the country from external aggression to descend into such lowly criminality. It is sad that a security personnel, who is paid and maintained with taxpayers’ money, could turn around to kill the person he is being paid to protect.
“We implore the Federal Government to adequately compensate the families of victims and ensure justice is served on the culprits.”