…As Security experts urge thorough, unbiased investigation into killing of policemen by army***
The Centre for Change Initiative has told the Federal Government to commence prosecution of soldiers involved in the alleged killing of three policemen and a civilian.
The President of the group, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, made the call in a statement on Saturday in Lagos, even as some security experts called for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the recent killing of three police officers in Taraba by men of the Nigerian Army.
She said that the soldiers should be prosecuted for murder to serve as deterrent to others.
On Aug. 7, the police authorities announced that three police officers and a civilian were killed in an encounter with soldiers on the Ibi-Jalingo highway in Taraba on Aug. 6.
The army and police authorities have since constituted a joint investigation panel to probe the incident.
Okei-Odumakin pointed out that the army authorities were yet to send a word of condolence to the families of the killed cops.
“The images of the savage killings which have gone viral are quiet reminiscent of Boko Haram operations.
“It is surprising that instead of the army to be remorseful for the senseless killings that portray it as aiding criminality, it has engaged in dancing over the graves of the gallant officers, who were credited with successful anti-kidnap operations by calling them suspected kidnappers.”
“We have not heard a word of condolence to the families of the killed policemen from the army.
“We reject any attempt to sweep this high crime under the carpet by setting up an investigation that will lure us into forgetfulness.
“We demand immediate identification of the officers involved and their prosecution for murder immediately.
“This is the only way to prove to the world that Nigeria has not become a total jungle.
“We pray for the souls of the officers and send our heartfelt condolences to their families,” Okei-Odumakin said.
Meanwhile, some security experts have called for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the recent killing of three police officers in Taraba by men of the Nigerian Army.
The three detectives in the Inspector-General of Police Response Team and one civilian were killed on August 6 by army personnel in Ibi, Taraba, after they allegedly arrested one Alhaji Hamisu, an alleged high profile billionaire kidnapper, indicted in a series of high profile kidnap incidents in the state.
The army said that the killing was in error, adding that its men mistook the detectives for kidnappers.
The police, however, claimed that army knew that the deceased were police detectives and shot them at close range.
During the killing of the officers and civilian, the suspected kidnapper allegedly escaped.
The Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police have consequently set up a Joint Investigation Panel headed by DIG Mike Ogbizi, in-charge of Criminal Investigation Department.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Mr Dan Okoro, described the killing as unfortunate, saying that the officers lost their lives to the nation’s insecurity quagmire.
“May their fighting spirit expose those behind their death.
“Investigators should do a forensic audit of consummated alleged symbiotic union, a recital of that wanted kidnapper and cohorts, and a forensic audit of alleged informant and authorised deployment of both services for that operation,” he said.
Th Coordinator of the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria, Mr Ikechukwu Nwanguma, told NAN that the killing should be exhaustively investigated.
He expressed sadness at the death of the detectives, saying that a comprehensive and unbiased investigation would expose the killers.
“This incident needs to be properly and exhaustively investigated to find out what happened.
“Military authorities should investigate the activities of their personnel in the country.
“This is to ensure that they do not engage in criminal and illegal activities including extortion at checkpoints and brutality on civilians,” Nwanguma said.
Another retired Commissioner of Police, Mr Frank Odita, said he would expect the investigating team to unearth the truth and let the public know whether there was a conspiracy in the killing.
According to Odita, Nigerians would want to know if the attack was a deliberate act of murder or ignorantly carried out on the line of duty by the soldiers.
Crime, defence and security reporters, under the auspices of Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN), is also worried at the killing.
In a statement signed by Mr. Frank Oshanugor, its Secretary on Ethics and Human Interest Committee, CRAN said the unfortunate incident ought to have been avoided.
CRAN called for a discreet investigation into the killing by the Joint Investigation Panel.
According him, the panel should be unbiased and must make its findings public within a short period.
“The panel should find out if it is professional and justifiable for security agencies to open fire on kidnappers with their victims as we were told that it is better for 100 criminals to escape than for an innocent person to be killed.
“If really the soldiers were responding to a distress call to rescue a kidnapped victim, should they have shot the presumed kidnappers along with their victim.
“As CRAN commiserates with the families of the deceased policemen, the association calls for collaboration between security agencies saddled with same responsibility of protecting lives and property of the citizenry,” CRAN said.
Another security expert, Mr Folorunsho Attah, said that infractions between the military and the police in Nigerians was age-long.
“The incident of Aug. 6 in Taraba, where three policemen and a civilian were slaughtered like rams left a sour taste in the mouths of Nigerians,” he said.
He also urged a thorough and unbiased investigation into the killing to uncover the truth.