The panel of inquiry set up to investigate the killing of three police officers, said to be among the best in the Nigeria police Force, and two civilians in Taraba State in August has blamed the police and military for the incident.
This was disclosed on Tuesday by the Defence Headquarters, saying the panel submitted its findings and found a breakdown in communication between the police team that went on an operation in Taraba State and the soldiers manning a checkpoint in the state as responsible for the killings.
The panel was led by Ibikunle Olaiya, a rear admiral, with one representative each from the Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police and the State Security Service.
Recall that three officers from the police intelligence response unit were killed on August 6 while transporting a suspected kidnap kingpin, Hamisu ‘Wadume’ Bala, to Jalingo, the state capital after his arrest.
The team came under fire from soldiers at a checkpoint.
The suspect was freed by the soldiers but he was arrested in Kano a few weeks later.
He is still in police custody.
It was reported in the media that there were links between one army captain Taraba state, Tijani Balarabe, and Wadume.
Police findings also confirmed that the suspect had a series of telephone conversations with senior police officers in Ibi, the community where the suspected kidnapper was arrested.
However, the panel recommended further investigation of Balarabe and Wadume, four police officers and the divisional crime officer in Ibi, Taraba, to establish their involvement in the fatal incident before prosecution.
Read below the full statement by the Defence Headquarters:
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF INQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE KILLING OF THREE NIGERIA POLICE PERSONNEL AND TWO CIVILIANS BY TROOPS OF THE NIGERIAN ARMY IN TARABA STATE
1. Following the directive of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari for an immediate investigation into the unfortunate incident that led to the killing of 3 Nigerian Police Force (NPF) personnel and 2 civilians by troops of the Nigerian Army (NA) along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State, the Chief of Defence Staff General AG Olonisakin constituted a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to investigate the incident. The 7 member BOI led by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Taiwo Olaiya as chairman, comprised one representative each from the Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police and Department of State Service.
2. You will recall that on 6 August 2019, reports of the sad killing of 3 policemen and 2 civilians in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State by troops of the NA broke out. This gave rise to serious concern by the Federal government, the military and police high command. The incident started from Ibi town, following an alarm alleging the kidnap of one Alhaji Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) by some individuals in a Hummer bus. Captain Tijani Balarabe informed all military checkpoints along Ibi-Wukari Road, who sprang into action.
3. The alleged Hummer bus mentioned in the distress call, however, conveyed Police personnel of the IGP-IRT who were on a legitimate duty in Taraba State. Also, military checkpoints in the area were deployed by troops of Headquarters 93 Battalion, Takum, who were equally on legitimate duty to checkmate communal clashes, kidnapping and armed robbery, which were prevalent threats in Wukari – Ibi area.
4. After a thorough and painstaking investigation into the incident, the BOI submitted its report to the convening authority observing that, there were infractions and poor communication between personnel of the NPF and troops of the NA. It was also observed that there was non-adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure by both parties involved in the incident. It further made some recommendations to the NA and NPF to forestall future reoccurrence and bring anyone culpable to book in accordance with extant laws.
5. The BOI also recommended that the NA and NPF should further investigate Captain Tijani Balarabe, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye, DCO Ibi Police Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police Aondoona Iorbee, and Inspector Aliyu Dadje for complacency and necessary disciplinary measures. It was also recommended that further investigation be conducted on Hamisu Bala for gunrunning and possible kidnapping, in order to prosecute the suspect.
6. Additionally, the BOI recommended that the Services and other security agencies establish an Interagency Liaison Desk to include senior officers for timely resolution of future Misdemeanor.
7. The Defence Headquarters once again assures the public that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies are working in synergy to tackle contemporary security challenges bedevilling the nation.
You are please requested to disseminate this information to the general public. Thank you for your cooperation.
Acting Director of Defence Information