The police have demanded that the Nigerian Army should produce kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Wadume, allegedly set free by soldiers who attacked a police team in Taraba State on Tuesday.
Three officers and one other person were killed when soldiers opened fire on the bus conveying the police team.
Army spokesman, Sagir Musa, had said in a statement that the soldiers mistook the victims for kidnappers while responding to a distress call.
“On August 6, troops of 93 Battalion Nigerian Army Takum pursued and exchanged fire with some suspected kidnappers who indeed turned out to be an Intelligence Response Team from the Police Force Headquarters Abuja on a covert assignment from Abuja resulting in the death and injury of some members of the team,” Musa statement said.
Blaming the police for improper coordination of their operation, the army spokesman added: “The flagrant refusal of the suspected kidnappers to stop at the three checkpoints prompted a hot pursuit 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 return fire.”
Responding on behalf of the police, Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, accused the army of distorting facts.
“In the best tradition of esprit de corps, inter-agency harmony and national interest, the Nigeria Police Force would naturally have kept quiet, but it has become imperative to set the record straight by addressing the obvious distortion of facts inherent in the press release by the Nigerian Army.
“The most important question arising from the Nigerian Army press release is: Where is Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume? Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a millionaire kidnapper arrested by the Police but paradoxically treated as a ‘’kidnap victim’ by the soldiers and subsequently ‘rescued’ by them. Where is he? Where is the rescued kidnapper?” Mba asked.
He also faulted the army’s silence on the source of the alleged distress report or identity of the complainant on the strength of whose report the decision was taken to engage in the purported chase and rescue operation.
“Needless to state that in the true spirit of transparency and accountability, the Nigerian Army ought to have arrested the purported distress caller – if any – for obviously and deliberately furnishing them with false and misleading information. Besides, such arrest should in fact be made public!” he continued.
The police force, Mba said, “considers it insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic for the press release by the army to continue to describe policemen on lawful national assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’ long after it had become crystal clear to the army that these are law enforcement officers who unfortunately were gruesomely murdered in the line of duty by Nigerian soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum.”