Army Reacts to Death of IRT Policemen when Soldiers Pursued Suspected ‘Kidnappers’ in Taraba
The Nigerian Army (NA) has said it soldiers responded to a distress call on kidnapping and confronted alleged kidnappers where four suspects were killed during the encounter in Taraba State on 6 August, 2019.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Colonel Sagir Musa, the Army refuted the claim of the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank, who said in a press release, that troops of 93 Battalion Takum in Taraba, shot and killed four members of the Force Headquarters’ Intelligence Response Team sent to carry out a covert assignment in the State from Abuja.
Sagir said the NA troops, while responding to a distressed call to rescue a kidnapped victim on the 6th of August 2019, exchanged fire with the suspected kidnappers along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State.
“Suspected kidnappers numbering about ten (10) and driving in a white bus with Reg. No. LAGOS MUS 564 EU, refused to stop when they were halted by troops at three consecutive check points.
“The flagrant refusal of the suspected kidnappers to stop at the three checkpoints prompted a hot chase of the fleeing suspects by the troops. It was in this process that the suspected kidnappers, who were obviously armed opened fire at the troops sporadically. Thus, prompting them to also return fire,” he added.
Musa, said four suspects were shot and died on the spot while four others sustained various degrees of gunshot wound, and two others reportedly missing in the resultant fire fight.
He explained that it was after the dust of the avoidable event finally settled that one of the wounded suspects disclosed that they were indeed Policemen dispatched from the Force Headquarters, for a covert assignment in the State.
“However, following inquiries from a Police Station officer who was asked by the Commander of the Army troops whether he was aware of any Nigerian Police team being dispatched to operate in the LGA, the Divisional Police Officer of Ibi Police Division responded that he was not informed about any operation by the Force Headquarters. Thus, lending credence to the distressed call from members of the community that the suspects who turned out to be Policemen on a covert mission were rather suspected kidnappers,” he said.
According to the Army Spokesperson, the unfortunate incident could have been avoided through proper liaison, as the Nigerian Police are partners in the fight against crimes such as kidnapping amongst myriads of other internal security threats confronting the country.
In order to avert a recurrence, Col. Musa, said both the Army Headquarters and the Force Headquarters have agreed to constitute a ‘Joint Investigation Panel’ to be headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation Department (CID), DIG Mike Ogbizi, to jointly investigate and report on the true circumstances surrounding the tragic event.