By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA— Following the killing of three officers of the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Intelligence Response Team, IRT, in Taraba State by soldiers who freed a kidnap kingpin, the army captain, who allegedly gave the order for their elimination has been arrested.
However, a source in the Army said last night that based on suspicion that the captain ordered the killing of the IRT operatives, he was only invited by the panel set up to investigate the incident for questioning.
This is just as Vanguard gathered that the kidnap kingpin/suspect is a philanthropist whoallegedly compromised some of the soldiers stationed in the area where the police operatives were killed.
Security sources disclosed that the captain ordered his men to shoot the bus carrying the police officers, with an instruction that no policeman must escape and that the suspect, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, should be freed.
The source said: “Our colleagues (police operatives) also exchanged pleasantries with the army personnel at the checkpoint before they pursued then on the captain’s instruction and fired at them.”
Sources close to the investigators disclosed that the order to attack the policemen was given by the army captain.
But when returning with the suspect, the same soldiers seen earlier at one of the check points pulled the triggers that ended the lives of three of the policemen.
A source said: “The road to Ibi village is very narrow and only that road leads to the village. You have to pass through it to enter or leave the small village.
“That was why when the policemen encountered the soldiers at the three checkpoints, they introduced themselves and stated what they came for. They chatted, joked and exchanged pleasantries.
“The arrest was made within 20 minutes and while they were returning, soldiers at the first and second check points asked them if they were already through.
“The soldiers and operatives know one another, but the phone call from a top military personnel changed everything.”
Sources said the policemen were attacked at the second military check-point in the village.
It was further revealed that the policemen were taken unawares as the soldiers allegedly opened fire on the bus conveying the operatives, with the shocked driver losing control of his wheel, leading the bus to somersault under the barrage of gun fire.
The policemen, who were fast enough to crawl out of the damaged vehicle, fled into the bush and the soldiers, upon getting to the scene and realising they were still alive, allegedly shot three operatives and a civilian among them at close range.
Two of the recovered corpses had bullet holes in their stomach, while the other two had bullet holes in their chests.
Being a small town, the scene of the accident was immediately swarmed by people as seen in the video which captured the killing, as the soldiers labelled the policemen kidnappers.
It was learned that the people went wild with jubilation, having been informed that the slain cops were kidnappers.
The arrival of the people to the scene actually saved the lives of two other policemen who had earlier crawled out of the vehicle to hide themselves.
It was gathered that they would have been shot dead too but for the crowd and were taken to a part of the army base where deliberations were allegedly held on whether or not to kill them.
Vanguard gathered that one of the soldiers reportedly told his colleagues that killing them would be too risky as the villagers already captured them alive on their smart phones.
Sources told Vanguard that on hearing that the videos would give them away, the soldiers reluctantly took the surviving cops to the hospital.
A source expressed belief that from what transpired, there was no doubt that the soldiers and their bosses were working for the kidnapper, Wadume, who is currently on the run.
Recall that the operatives, who were on a follow-up in an ongoing kidnapping investigation, led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Felix Adolije, went to Taraba State with a letter detailing their investigation and mission.
They were ambushed by the soldiers and preliminary investigation showed that the kidnap kingpin has many security personnel in Ibi, Taraba State on his pay roll.
The operatives got to the police headquarters in Jalingo, and perfected their papers before proceeding to Ibi Town, Taraba State, in their operational Toyota Hummer Bus.
The source said: “When the operatives got to Ibi town, they booked their arrival at the police station and proceeded with assistance from a policeman attached to them in the state headquarters, Jalingo, to trace and arrest Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, who is wanted because he is linked to several kidnappings in Taraba State, including a recent kidnapping in which N100million was collected as ransom.
After arresting Wadume, the operatives were heading to police headquarters at Jalingo when gang members of Wadume, who are close to an Army captain serving in Ibi town, called the the captain and told him that his friend had been kidnapped.
“Without any verification or inquiries, the Army captain ordered his men along the highway to ambush the policemen. Thus, as the team was moving along Ibi-Jalingo Road, they came under the hail of bullets from soldiers, which led to the vehicle conveying the policemen somersaulting.
Thereafter, two policemen and one civilian agent were shot dead by the soldiers at close range.
The policemen were shot despite presenting their police identification cards, and also adorning police jackets.
All the policemen were alive when their vehicles somersaulted. Two operatives, Inspector Mark Idiale and Inspector Abah Mathias, had serious bullet wounds.
They are now receiving treatment at the General Hospital Wukari in Taraba State. Policemen from Ibi Area Command responded to calls and took the injured and dead officers to the hospital.
“It is believed that Wadume and other members of his gang escaped with him to a location outside Ibi Town.
“One AK47 rifle and two pistols belonging to the late police officers were carted away by the gang members of Wadume who came to the scene with the soldiers, while two of the police AK47 rifles are with the soldiers as admitted by one of their personnel at the scene,’’ a source said.