Army chief, Buratai fears Police revenge, orders soldiers to wear mufti

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has ordered travelling officers and men to wear plain clothes [mufti] while travelling across Nigeria.

This is as Buratai accused the Force Headquarters of making “inciting and inflammatory comments” following soldiers’ killing of three policemen and a civilian in Taraba after they had effected the arrest of a notorious kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, who is now on the run.

Buratai’s order which leaked to the media on Monday was contained in a circular with reference number: AHQDAIOPS/G3/240/232, and copied to Army formations nationwide.

The letter signed by Brig. Gen. F. Omoigui, on behalf of the COAS, was entitled: “Need for troops to be circumspect in dealing with members of the Nigeria Police.”

Buratai directed soldiers on internal security (IS) operations across the country to be circumspect, alerting of the likelihood of aggression towards troops by police personnel.

He said Police statements and reactions had the potential of forcing the rank and file of its personnel to “exhibit aggressive tendencies against NA (Nigerian Army) personnel.”.

Buratai, in the circular, told soldiers to travel in mufti to avoid possible attacks by policemen, which he argued, may be occasioned by the Police’s comments on both social and traditional media.

Soldiers of the 93 Battalion had shot dead the IRT operatives – Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeant Usman Danzumi, and Sergeant Dahiru Musa.

The Army claimed they were shot after being mistaken for “suspected kidnappers”.

Firing back, Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, in a strongly-worded statement, said: “The most important question arising from the Nigerian Army Press Release is: Where is Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume? Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a millionaire kidnapper arrested by the Police but paradoxically treated as a ‘‘kidnap victim’’ by the Soldiers and subsequently ‘rescued’ by them. Where is he? Where is the rescued kidnapper?

“Secondly, the Press Release was silent on the source of the alleged distress report or identity of the complainant, on the strength of whose report, the Army claimed had informed their decision to engage in the purported chase and rescue operation. Needless to state that in the true spirit of transparency and accountability, the Nigerian Army ought to have arrested the purported distress caller – if any – for obviously and deliberately furnishing them with false and misleading information. Besides, such arrest should in fact be made public!

“Thirdly, it is not true that the Policemen failed to identify themselves as alleged in the Press Release. The video on the incident, now viral, wherein the voice of one of the soldiers was heard loudly proclaiming that the Policemen were from the Force Headquarters, Abuja speaks volume. Besides, the presence of the IRT personnel was well known to the Taraba Police Command as the Operatives officially and properly documented not only at the State Command Headquarters but also at the Wukari Area Command and the Ibi Divisional Headquarters. As a matter of fact, some of the Detectives from the Taraba State Command’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were part of the operation.

“The Force also considers it insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic for the Press Release by the Army to continue to describe Policemen on lawful National Assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’ long after it had become crystal clear to the Army that these are Law Enforcement Officers who unfortunately were gruesomely murdered in the line of duty by Nigerian soldiers attached to 93 Battalion, Takum.

“In the final analysis, we leave the Nigerian Army authorities to provide Nigerians with answers on the following questions emanating from their Press Release:
* Where is the notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume ‘rescued’ by the soldiers?
* How and why was Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume released by the soldiers?
* How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers?
* If Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a ‘‘victim of kidnap’’ as claimed, and properly rescued by soldiers, why was he not taken to the Army Base for documentation purposes and debriefing in line with the Standard Operating Procedure in the Nigerian Army?
* Why were the Police Operatives shot at close range even after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation?”

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