By Kingsley Omonobi, Joseph Erunke & Ifeanyi Okolie
ABUJA — A mild-drama ensued at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, yesterday, as it was established that one of the policemen killed by soldiers in Taraba State after arresting a suspected millionaire kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, last week, got the commendation of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Burutai, for assisting the Nigeria Army in June 2016.
This came on a day the families of the three operatives of the IGP Intelligence Response Team, IRT, and a civilian killed in the attack, tasked the federal government to ensure justice was done in the issue.
Vanguard learned that Inspector Edaile Mark, 36, was part of a team of Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, deployed to Kaduna State by the then Inspector -General of Police, Solomon Arase, to track and arrest killers of a serving officer of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Samaila Inusa, who was abducted in Kamazo area of Kaduna State.
His corpse was found two days later at Ajyaif community of Kaduna State.
The Nigerian Army had suspected that Col. Inusa, who was with his wife at the time he was kidnapped, was abducted and killed by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, also known as Shi’ites, following their December 2015 clash with the Nigerian Army in Zaria.
Vanguard gathered that Inspector Mark and his colleagues spent three months in Kaduna State hunting down killers of the Army Colonel, who was the Chief Instructor of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji , Kaduna State.
They made a breakthrough when they trailed and arrested a user of the Army Colonel’s, mobile phone.
It was learned that Inspector Mark and his team succeeded in arresting four members of the gang who kidnapped and killed the Army colonel and recovered all their operational arms and ammunition.
The arrest of the suspects was said to have brought succour to the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army Staff, Burutai, who promptly wrote a letter of commendation to then Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, thanking him and his men at the IRT.
Letter from Army chief
The letter, which was signed by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, and dated June 9, 2016, stated: “The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, on behalf of the families of late Colonel Samaila Inusa, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army, wishes to thank the Inspector -General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, for tracking and arresting the kidnappers and murderers of the late Colonel Samaila Inusa of the Nigerian Army and smashing the deadly kidnapping and armed robbery syndicate.
“The Chief of Army Staff specifically wishes to thank the Inspector- General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team, IRT, and Kaduna State Command Special Investigation Bureau, SIB, operatives for their dedication to duty and professionalism that led to the arrest of the criminals that abducted and killed the late senior officer in Kaduna metropolis, Kaduna State, on March 27 this year.
“This unprecedented feat is a clear manifestation of the excellent cooperation existing between the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police which had flourished over time in joint operations to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians.
‘’The Chief of Army Staff urges personnel of the Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police to continue to work hard towards sustaining the excellent cooperation and synergy between them. Thank you for your kind cooperation.”
Lamentations from policemen
Vanguard gathered from sources that policemen are lamenting that Inspector Mark’s life would have been saved by the soldiers who attacked him and his team at Ibi Town in Taraba State if he was rushed to the hospital by the soldiers.
The source explained that the video clip obtained from the scene of the attack showed that Inspector Mark, who was on a white shirt, could have been saved but was allowed to die as a result of the bullet wounds inflicted on him by the soldiers.
The source added that what was even more painful was that the Nigeria Army labelled the slain policemen ‘kidnappers’ and had not sent any condolence message to the Nigeria Police Force or families of the slain policemen.
The source said: “They killed Police officers on duty, released a kidnapper they arrested. Thereafter, instead of condoling the IGP and families of the deceased for tension to come down, they released a false and deceptive press release to the public labelling them kidnappers.
‘’Later, they said they are Police officers who came on illegal duty without reporting at the police station and that they refused to stop at checkpoints. So, who is saying all these lies against innocent officers they killed will not provoke the Police?
‘’They were the ones that released all the misleading and false press releases against the police and the police responded with verifiable facts to set the records straight and counter all their lies against the officers they killed and they call it inciting write up.”
Victims’ families seek justice
Meanwhile, families of the three operatives of the IGP Intelligence Response Team, IRT, and a civilian allegedly killed by soldiers in Taraba State, have tasked the federal government to ensure justice was done in the issue.
They also called on the international community and an independent body to be involved in any panel set up to look into the gruesome killings, allegedly by soldiers.
The officers killed on Tuesday, August 6, by soldiers of the 93 Battalion in Taraba State, were Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeant Usman Danzumi and Sergeant Dahiru Musa, as well as a civilian, Mr Olajide Owolabi.
Addressing the media, yesterday, in Abuja, head of the family and elder brother of the deceased Inspector, Mr. Andrew Ediale, called on the international community and Independent bodies, to undertake independent inquiries, with a view to ensure justice was done to the deceased and their bereaved families.
Mr Ediale said: “The blood of the slain men will hound the nation, unless justice was done on this matter.’’
Ediale insisted that “an independent inquiry by local and international bodies was necessary to unravel the death of the officer who has served the nation variously for 16 years.
He said the family of Inspector Ediale would particularly view the killing of their son as a conspiracy, if the federal government failed to carry out a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We come before all well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to voice out our displeasure over the gruesome murder of our brother who went on official duty for his beloved country that he has served for over 16years.
“We vehemently speak against the perpetrators of this heinous act by soldiers of the Nigerian Army and we demand a very thorough investigation by national, international community as well independent body so that justice will be truly served,’’ he said.
Edaile, who was flanked by the wife of the victim, Olubunmi Edaile, and other members of his family, blamed the Army for the death of the inspector.
He said: “The same Army that is charged with protecting the citizens of the country happens to be the perpetrators of this heinous and barbaric act.
“Our question is who are these soldiers working for? Whose side are they? And whose payroll are these military personnel on? This and many more questions we demand answers. We also demand to know why the kidnapper was freed?’’
He noted that the action has called to question the integrity of the law of Nigeria, adding that it also caused grief to the families of the late police officers.
Edaile, who noted that the family was shattered by news of the murder of their late brother, said: “Nothing should be swept under the carpet and we demand justice, we also want the perpetrators to be brought to book.”
Also speaking, Mrs Joy Danlami, aunt to the civilian among the dead, Olajide Owolabi, said the family was still grieving because “we lost a hope.”
“We are not happy with the way they treated them before they even killed them; the soldiers were rolling them on the ground,’’ she said.
Asked whether she has been communicating with the police, she answered in the negative.
She said: “Jide Owolabi has been working with the SARS team for almost three years to make arrest.
“I don’t know in what capacity, but he has been working with them. The death took us unawares, we want the government to do something, justice must prevail, and those people should be punished. He is just 24 years old and unmarried.”