Police and Army authorities have constituted a Joint Investigation Panel to investigate the incident involving the troops of 93 Battalion, Takum, Taraba State, leading to the death of some policemen on Tuesday.
Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, in a statement on Wednesday said the panel would be headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation Department, DIG Mike Ogbizi.
Musa said the panel would jointly investigate and report on the true circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incidence in order to avert future occurrences.
He said that until the Joint Investigation Panel concludes and submits its report, it would be premature to officially conclude and speak on the real circumstances that caused the avoidable incident.
The army spokesperson explained that the said army troops, while responding to a distressed call to rescue a kidnapped victim exchanged fire with the suspected kidnappers along Ibi-Wukari Road in the State.
He added that the suspected kidnappers numbering about 10 who drove in a white bus with Reg. No LAGOS MUS 564 EU refused to stop when they were halted by troops at three consecutive check points.
According to him, the flagrant refusal of the suspected kidnappers to stop at the three checkpoints prompted a hot pursuit of the fleeing suspects by the troops.
“It was in this process that the suspected kidnappers who were obviously armed opened fire at the troops sporadically thus prompting them to return fire.
“In the resultant fire fight, four suspects were shot and died on the spot while four others sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds and two others reportedly missing.
“It was only after this avoidable outcome that one of the wounded suspects disclosed the fact that they were indeed Policemen dispatched from Nigerian Police, Force Headquarters, and Abuja for a covert assignment,” he said.
Musa further explained that the commander of the army troops inquired from the Divisional Police Officer of Ibi Police Division whether he was aware of any Police team being dispatched to operate in the area but he denied knowledge of the team.
This according to him lends credence to the distressed call from members of the community that the suspects who turned out to be Policemen on a covert mission were rather suspected kidnappers.
“This incident is indeed quite unfortunate and could have been avoided through proper coordination and liaison.
“Nigerian Police Force are partners in the fight against crimes such as kidnapping amongst myriads of other internal security threats confronting our nation of which the Nigerian Police is the lead agency,” he added.
News men reports that the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, had earlier issued a statement that the Police Operatives, led by ASP Felix Adolije of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) reportedly came under sudden attack by soldiers along Ibi–Jalingo Road.
Mba said that the operatives, who were taking the arrested suspect, Alhaji Hamisu to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo, were shot at severally by the soldiers in spite of sufficient proof that they are Police personnel on legitimate duty.
He said that three Policemen comprising one Inspector and two Sergeants and one civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack while others sustained serious gunshot wounds.
According to him, the soldiers thereafter released the handcuffed suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, who is now on the run.