By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja
More than three weeks after the Presidential Panel ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari and constituted by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin to investigate the killing of 3 Police officers of IRT who went to arrest Kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala Wadume in Ibbi, Taraba state, submitted its report to the CDS and the report was submitted to the Presidency, indications are that the presidency is yet to act on its findings.
Recall that soldiers of 73 battalions acting under the command of an Army Captain, opened fire on the bus carrying the millionaire kidnapper, killing the IRT operatives and the civilian driver.
Rear Admiral TI Olaiya was appointed to head the seven-man panel that included representatives of the Army, Police, DSS, NIA, DIA, Navy and Air force.
Before submitting the report to the presidency, he CDS was said to have studied it and made some recommendations on which Mr President is expected to give final directives for implementation.
In the meantime, Wadume who is still being detained at SARS facility in Abuja after he was re-arrested by the DCP Abba Kyari led Police manhunt team after his escape, is still being heavily guarded with special personnel including sniffer dogs.
Vanguard gathered that the various revelations made by Wadume showing the involvement of many of the soldiers, the officer and even Police personnel of both the Taraba State Command and the Wukari/Ibbi Police Division, makes it imperative that he must be protected from any harm pending presidency decision on the panel report.
On his part, the Chief if Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai a week ago, disclosed that the Nigerian Army (NA) will take decisive action against the troops involved in the killing of the three Police detectives in Taraba State if they are eventually found culpable.
Making the vow while declaring open the combined 2019 second and third quarter Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abuja, Buratai noted that with the conclusion of the investigation on the Taraba episode by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Joint Investigation Panel, the unfortunate and ugly episode must not be allowed to happen again.
He said the incident was unhealthy for the desired cooperation and collaboration expected among security agencies.
He charged Army commanders at all levels to always adhere to the rules of engagement, while also respecting the extant laws and fundamental human rights of citizens as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
“It is imperative that we become more proactive in ensuring the discipline and professionalism of our personnel. In our dealings with other agencies of government and indeed the larger society, we should always be professional, courteous and disciplined.
“We should all note that the Nigerian Army, as part of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, is mandated to support the civil authority and the Nigerian Police Force in internal security operations. However, recent occurrences have shown that there is a need for more reorientation on civil-military relations, especially at the junior cadre level.
“Unfortunately, incidences such as the recent one at Ibbi in Taraba, which generated intense media comments are not healthy for the smooth cooperation and operations of our security forces. Investigation of the incidence has been concluded and decisive action will be taken to ensure it never happened again.
“Similarly the recent case of rape of a lady by a soldier in 34 Brigade, and the shooting of a motorcyclist by another soldier are examples of unwarranted events which we must guide against. Nigerian Army will not condone any form of indiscipline or actions that would tarnish its good image.
“I hereby charge Commanders at all levels to continue to educate personnel on the need to adhere to the rules of engagement at all times and also respect all extant laws and fundamental human rights of citizens as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution”, Lt. Gen. Buratai said.