The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has cautioned troops to be careful in their dealings with officers of the Nigeria Police Force in the wake of a clash between both security agencies.
The Force had raised an alarm on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 that three of its officers, and a civilian, were killed during a confrontation with soldiers along Ibi-Jalingo Road in Taraba State on Tuesday, August 6.
Police spokesperson, Frank Mba, said the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) had arrested and was transporting a suspected kidnapper, Hamisu Wadume, to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo when the attack happened. The kidnap suspect was also set free by the soldiers after the firefight.
In response to the Police statement, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said in a statement that the unfortunate incident happened because the officers failed to identify themselves to troops.
He said troops of 93 Battalion Nigerian Army Takum were responding to a distress call to rescue a kidnapped victim when they clashed with the Police team.
Despite the constitution of a Joint Investigation Panel to probe the incident, the Police has been unrelenting in demanding public answers from the Army over the killing of the officers.
In a leaked letter written on Buratai’s behalf by Brigadier General F. Omoigui, he warned that soldiers need to tread carefully following the “inflammatory comments” by the Police.
In the letter, dated August 9, Buratai advised soldiers who are travelling within the country to do so out of uniform so as to avoid an escalation with officers that might display “aggressive tendencies”.
The letter read, “In the aftermath of the unfortunate incident involving troops of 93 bn, Takum and members of the Intelligence Response Team of the NPF at Ibi LGA of Taraba State on August 6, 2019, inciting and inflammatory comments are being made by the NPF on the regular and social media platforms.
“This is capable of inciting the rank and file of the NP to exhibit aggressive tendencies against NA personnel.
“Accordingly, all troops on IS (Internal Security) duty as well as personnel travelling in and out of uniform are to be circumspect in their conduct to avoid escalation.”
“Consequently, formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings with members of the NP in view of this development.
“Troops travelling on pass are to endeavor to do so in mufti.”
Last week, the Police disclosed the names of the deceased officers as Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeant Usman Danzumi, and Sergeant Dahiru Musa. The civilian is yet to be identified.
There have been allegations that the soldiers attacked the police officers with full knowledge of who they were and that they had been ordered to do so by an Army captain who has close ties with Wadume, the kidnap suspect currently at large.
The Joint Investigation Panel will be headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation Department, Mike Ogbizi.