BY SIMON REEF MUSA
The recent killing of three policemen, including a civilian, by troops of 93 Battalion Takum, in Taraba State is quite unsettling, taking into cognisance current storms of insecurity bedeviling various states. The incident recalls to memory the statement by former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) in which he accused the military of collusion with criminal armed bandits to unleash a reign of terror on Nigerian communities.
There is no doubt that the Taraba killing of policemen is a blight on the expected inter-agency collaboration among security agencies in order to stave off criminal activities plaguing various parts of the country. In response to the Taraba tragedy, the army had claimed that the killing was based on mistaken identities. The police have described the army’s reaction to the killing as untenable, stressing that its officers were on lawful exercise, with the appropriate identification, and their brief known to the Taraba Police Command.
There seems to be a dark tunnel leading to the killing of the police team that was dispatched from Abuja to arrest an alleged millionaire-kidnapper identified as Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume. It is still a mystery why the military would kill the policemen after the arrest of the alleged kidnapper.
There are so many questions by the police in a bid to unveil the hidden motive of the mistaken killings by the troops. Where is the notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, who was ‘rescued’ by the soldiers? How and why was Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume released by the soldiers? How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers? If Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a ‘‘victim of kidnap’’ as claimed by the troops, and properly rescued by soldiers, why was he not taken to the Army Base for documentation purposes and debriefing in line with the Standard Operating Procedure in the Nigerian Army? Why were the Police Operatives shot at close range even after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation?
Indeed, we are living in strange times when collaboration between criminals and some bad security elements sometimes compromised efforts at arresting criminals. Taraba state has become a fertile axis of security concerns on account of alleged collusion among those causing troubles and those who are expected to tackle the troubles. Despite efforts by the state to ensure violence-free society, these bad elements in our security outfits have not helped matters in ensuring a crime-free society.
When on 24th March, 2018, former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (retd), called on Nigerians to stand up against murderous attacks from criminal armed bandits engaged in unleashing violence on Nigerian communities, not a few analysts agreed with him. Danjuma had pointedly accused the nation’s military of colluding with criminal elements that has culminated into trails of tears, sorrow, blood and hair-rising destruction in various states of the federation.
Could the recent killings of policemen in Taraba a case of collusion between bad elements in the military and alleged criminals? Why should the army set free an alleged criminal without profiling him? What was the motive in shooting the police officers by the troops at close range? How could such an exercise be devoid of relevant information to other security agencies to ensure success of the mandate?
There is no doubt that the Taraba killings is a riddle that must not be allowed to be inappropriately handled. Those found to be colluding with criminal elements should face the full wrath of the law. The security challenges in many states of the Federation are aggravated by the active connivance of greedy security agents for selfish reasons. A nation’s security that is mobbed by attacks unleashed by criminals cannot be assisted by the presence of fifth columnists in their fold.
The killing of the policemen presents an opportunity to the nation’s military to dig deep into the allegations of collusion and expose bad elements in its rank and file. The present inquiry should not be seen as designed to portray the military in bad light, but an opportunity to unveil and shame bad elements that have portrayed the military in bad light.
Against the backdrop of allegation of collusion with criminals, the recent panel set up by Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, and headed by Rear Adm. I.T Olaiya, with a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Department of State Service and the Defence Intelligence Agency, must rise to the occasion and unveil all the dark alleys surrounding the inexplicable coldblooded killing of the police officers. The arrest of the alleged kidnapper must be a priority and those found to be culpable must not be allowed to escape the long arms of the law. When a nation’s security agencies unite, no criminal endeavours of any sort can withstand them. The storms of criminal activities ripping across the nation is festered by the inability of our security agencies to unite against the common foe.
Those who think the current insecurity challenge can simply fizzle away without a united front by security agencies against criminals are not being realistic. When the state security architecture unites against law breakers, the dream of a crime-free society takes a leap forward and society is made to experience equity and justice. The worst that can happen to a society is when those who are expected to ensure equity are in bed with criminals to break the laws with impunity. Our military and other security agencies must subject themselves to the floodlights of inquiry in order to purge themselves of elements that are threatening our safety.
For now, the military as an institution is committed to the safety and territorial defence of our country. However, the tragic incident that took place in Taraba points to the fact that certain elements exist in the military that are out of tune with the objectives of national security. Let no efforts be spared to ensure these bad elements are extricated from the military.