Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu
-allow panel investigate incident
The Nigeria Police have been cautioned against instigating colleagues of the deceased policemen to go after soldiers in retaliation over the recent incident involving their men and personnel of the Nigerian Army in Ibi, Taraba State.
Recall that three officers of the Intelligence Response Unit, the Nigeria Police Force, lost their lives in what was believed to be an operational mix-up with the Nigerian Army from Takum.
However, the police had through their Spokesman, Frank Mba, claimed that the death of the cops was a deliberate attack on their men by officers of the Nigerian Army.
Consequently, a panel of inquiry has been set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Reacting to the incident, the Grand Alliance Against Terrorism (GAAT) said the ongoing war of words between the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army was needless since a panel has been institute to investigate the root cause of the clash.
Addressing newsmen, Babatunde Michael, Executive Director of GAAT, said the recent statements and comments that the force officially issued practically instigated colleagues of the deceased policemen to go after soldiers in retaliation; a development he said would not augur well for future working relationship with not just the Nigerian Army and the military but also with other security and para-military organizations.
The group, therefore, called on both parties to sheathe swords while waiting for the outcome of the investigation.
We wish the Nigeria Police had, in the aftermath of the tragedy that resulted in the death of these gallant policemen, resorted to the kind of profound introspection that will not provide answers as to what went wrong but one that will provide the framework that will ensure that in the future there will be no incident of police teams attempting to convey an arrested suspect past Army checkpoint without identifying themselves but rather attempting to ram through the checkpoints.
As laymen, we had hazarded a guess as to why a police team on a national assignment of such importance will refuse to stop at those Army check points and we can only conclude that there is such uncertainty about identities in the land that criminals could have kitted themselves in any choice uniform and mounted a roadblock to free the suspect, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, who was being conveyed. It became immediately clear that a few procedural steps could have averted this disaster, like the police team notifying the Nigerian Army ahead that they were transporting a suspect; the policemen could also have changed into uniform and transfer to a clearly marked police vehicle for that leg of the assignment.
These observations are because, the same way uniformed people mounting roadblocks could be criminals, is the same way kidnappers will attempt to transport their victims past military checkpoints by ramming their way through. A timely notification, proper service uniform and a conspicuous police branded car or convoy of cars would have made the difference that ensure these hardworking policemen are still among the living.
The probe that has been ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari into the death of the policemen is enough grounds to not raise more posers than these for the moment. In fact, we urge the panel to take these issues we have raised as part of the input for its investigation. Adherence to rules of engagement on the part of the Army and the Police, or lack of it, should form part of what the investigation should uncover because we believe that no one that is rendering such service to their fatherland deserve to die under such avoidable circumstance.
While it is imprudent to at this time apportion blames to either party as to the series of events that led to the death of the policemen, it is important to condemn the aftermath of the event in which the Nigeria Police Force launched a coordinated campaign of calumny against the Nigerian Army on the unfortunate incident. The media war run by the police was so intense that some critics that have been known to support criminal groups were celebrating the face-off between the two security organizations. We can only wonder how much boost this has given to the underworld.
From the much we have seen in the aftermath of the incident, it seems the Police are desirous of taking up arms against the Nigerian Army. The statements and comments that the force officially issued practically instigated colleagues of the deceased policemen to go after soldiers in retaliation. The Police is embarking on social media campaign against the Nigerian Army which does not augur well for future working relationship with not just the Nigerian Army and the military but also with other security and para-military organizations. Added to the ubiquity of social media on which the incitements were publicized this is a dangerous precedent.
It is a route that the Nigeria Police should not have taken especially when Mr President has already directed for a thorough investigation, which makes the ongoing campaign against the Army by the police unnecessary. It makes more sense for all parties to await for the outcome of the investigation, so the police must show that it is sincere and has nothing to hide by peddling sentiments.
More importantly, Nigerians must not lose sight of the fact that the Nigerian Army would not be on the roads in civilian areas if the police had lived up to its billings.
Therefore, notwithstanding what the panel will decide, the police as a matter of self-review should begin implementing measures to resume its statutory duties of civil policing that the Army was forced to take over owing to its inability to meet up. Since the Army is only supporting in this regard, the police leadership needs wake up and take charge.
Even though something tragic has happened, as patriotic Nigerians who are interested in the interest of our country, we urge for decorum in dealing with the situation even as we condemn attempt by either of the parties to embark on blame game that will ruin the collective efforts being made by all.
The panel occasioned by the Presidential directive for a proper investigation must be allowed to do a proper job because we believe and have confidence in Mr. President’s capacity to do justice at the end of the day. The Grand Alliance Against Terrorism (GAAT) therefore considers the flagrant disregard for Mr. President’s directive as irresponsible and lack of respect for the nation’s constituted authority by the Police. We want to emphasize that even for a law enforcement agency, no one or organization is above the law so the Police or the Army should not take laws into their hands. This demands an end to the ongoing media hostility including the current campaign of calumny on the social media against the Army and its leadership.