…advises soldiers on pass to travel in mufti over killings
The crack in the relationship between the Nigerian Army and Police since the Tuesday, August 6 killing of three operatives of the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and a civilian may be widening, as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has accused the Force Headquarters of making “inciting and inflammatory comments.”
Accordingly, he has admonished soldiers on pass to travel in mufti, to avoid possible attacks by policemen, which he argued, may be occasioned by the Police’s comments on both social and traditional media.
The Police had maintained that the IRT operatives – Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeant Usman Danzumi and Sergeant Dahiru Musa – were allegedly shot and killed by troops of 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Taraba State, in the course of undertaking a legitimate duty.
According to the Police, officers who had arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin in Ibi community, one Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, were viciously attacked by the soldiers, leading to the deaths of four persons, while others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
The Army had swiftly reacted to the allegation, claiming that the soldiers had mistaken the slain policemen for “suspected kidnappers.”
However, in what appears a subdued escalation of inter-agency squabble, the COAS has directed soldiers on internal security (IS) operations across the country to be circumspect, alerting of the likelihood of aggression towards troops by police personnel.
Specifically, Buratai feared that the said statements had the potential of forcing the rank and file of the Police to “exhibit aggressive tendencies against NA (Nigerian Army) personnel.”
In an August 9 circular with reference number: AHQDAIOPS/G3/240/232, copied to Army formations nationwide, the Army chief charged commanders to educate troops on the urgent need to adopt circumspection in the event of provocation.
The letter signed by Brig.-Gen. F. Omoigui, on behalf of the COAS, was entitled: “Need for troops to be circumspect in dealing with members of the Nigeria Police.”
It read in part: “In the aftermath of the unfortunate incident involving troops of 93 Battalion, 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 (Nigeria Police) 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 endeavour to do so in mufti.”
Efforts to reach the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, for reaction to the COAS’ claim were not successful, as several calls to his phone lines were not answered.
He had yet to reply a text message, as at the time of this report.
Also, official confirmation of the circular was still being expected from the Army.
New Telegraph had earlier reported that the no-love-lost relationship may have informed the insistence by the Police to carry on with their probe, despite a presidential directive to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), to constitute an investigative team on the tragic incident.
DHQ had, last weekend, announced the setting up of a seven-man panel of investigation, which is noted, had commenced work.
The DHQ said the panel headed by Rear Admiral I.T Olaiya, had membership drawn from the Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), as well as the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).