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TARABA KILLINGS: Defence Hqters ends probe, makes recommendations

Bayelsa govt insists Buratai produce soldiers who killed photographer

The Defence headquarters on Tuesday, said it had concluded it’s enquiry into the killing of some policemen by soldiers in Ibi area of Taraba State on August 6, 2019.

It therefore recommended sanctions for a number of people involved in that incident, including its personnel and some policemen.

Five military personnel of the Nigerian Army who were involved in the killing of three policemen and one civilian were recommended for sanction by the Board of Inquiry set up by the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.

This was made known in a statement by the DHQ on Tuesday, which identified the concerned officers as; Captain Tijani Balarabe, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye of the Ibi Police Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Aondoona Iorbee, and Inspector Aliyu Dadje.

The statement read: “Following the directive of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari for an immediate investigation into the unfortunate incident that led to the killing of 3 Nigerian Police Force (NPF) personnel and 2 civilians by troops of the Nigerian Army (NA) along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State, the Chief of Defence Staff General AG Olonisakin constituted a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to investigate the incident. The 7 member BOI led by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Taiwo Olaiya as chairman, comprised one representative each from the Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police and Department of State Service.

“You will recall that on 6 August 2019, reports of the sad killing of 3 policemen and 2 civilians in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State by troops of the NA broke out. This gave rise to serious concern by the Federal government, the military and police high command. The incident started from Ibi town, following an alarm alleging the kidnap of one Alhaji Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) by some individuals in a Hummer bus. Captain Tijani Balarabe informed all military checkpoints along Ibi-Wukari Road, who sprang into action.

“The alleged Hummer bus mentioned in the distress call, however, conveyed Police personnel of the IGP-IRT who were on a legitimate duty in Taraba State. Also, military checkpoints in the area were deployed by troops of Headquarters 93 Battalion, Takum, who were equally on legitimate duty to checkmate communal clashes, kidnapping and armed robbery, which were prevalent threats in Wukari – Ibi area.

“After a thorough and painstaking investigation into the incident, the BOI submitted its report to the convening authority observing that, there were infractions and poor communication between personnel of the NPF and troops of the NA. It was also observed that there was non-adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure by both parties involved in the incident. It further made some recommendations to the NA and NPF to forestall future reoccurrence and bring anyone culpable to book in accordance with extant laws.

“The BOI also recommended that the NA and NPF should further investigate Captain Tijani Balarabe, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye, DCO Ibi Police Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police Aondoona Iorbee, and Inspector Aliyu Dadje for complacency and necessary disciplinary measures. It was also recommended that further investigation be conducted on Hamisu Bala for gunrunning and possible kidnapping, in order to prosecute the suspect.

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“Additionally, the BOI recommended that the Services and other security agencies establish an Interagency Liaison Desk to include senior officers for timely resolution of future Misdemeanor.

“The Defence Headquarters once again assures the public that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies are working in synergy to tackle contemporary security challenges bedevilling the nation”.

Ripples Nigeria had reported that three officers from the police Intelligence Response Team were killed on August 6 while returning from an operation to arrest the suspected kidnap kingpin in Taraba.

The team was attacked by some soldiers who opened fire on them while transporting the suspect, Hamisu Bala, in a bus to Jalingo, the state capital. The suspect was allegedly freed by the soldiers afterwards, but was later re-arrested in Kano a few weeks later and has remained in police detention.

Meanwhile, two civilians believed to be working with the police were also killed in the attack.

The attack led to confrontations between the police and the military, with the police insisting that the attack was deliberate by the soldiers in a bid to free the suspect.

Police later said investigations revealed that there were links between an army captain in the state, Tijani Balarabe, and the suspect.

Further findings also reportedly showed that the suspect had a series of telephone conversations with senior police officers in Ibi, the community where Mr Bala was rearrested.

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