DHQ panel visits Taraba, Wadume’s relations flee

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The panel set up by the Defence Headquarters to investigate the killing of three police officers and a civilian in Taraba by soldiers last week visited Governor Darius Ishaku on Wednesday.

The panel led by Rear Admiral I.T. Olaiya arrived at the Taraba Government House at about 1.50pm and proceeded to the Governor’s office.

Governor Darius Ishaku, who received the panel at about 1.49pm, requested journalists to vacate the venue of the meeting.

But a source in the meeting told one of our correspondents that Olaiya told the governor that the seven-man panel was in the state to investigate the unfortunate killing of the police officers and a civilian in the state.

The police source added that Ishaku urged the panel to do a good job as Nigerians were watching with keen interest the outcome of investigation.

Meanwhile, parents and relations of the fleeing kidnap kingpin, Wadume, have fled their homes in Ibi.

One of our correspondents gathered that Wadume’s house in Ibi and the place he was picked up by the police had been deserted.

Residents of the area told one of our correspondents that the fear of arrest had made the suspected kidnapper’s parents and relations to flee his house.

“We are shocked to discover that Bala Hamisu Wadume is a criminal. He used to sell fish here and all of a sudden he became so rich that he could buy cars and built houses for people.

“Wadume is a gentle and kind-hearted person who doesn’t want to see people suffer. I am indeed taken aback about the revelations about him, But his people have deserted the house since the news broke out, “one of the residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents.

Another resident, Musa Maijama’a, told one of our correspondents that the suspected kidnapper had over 12 mini buses and five speed boats he was using to ferry people across the River Benue in Ibi.

A police source told one of our correspondents that two of the buses seized from his house were in custody of the police in Jalingo while five were impounded in Ibi.

“We are trailing the remaining buses and hopefully we will get them all. The panel investigating the case has arrived but  that won’t stop us from going on with our investigations.”

The seven-man panel which is expected to be in Taraba for three days is expected to visit Ibi on Thursday (today) to interact with relevant sources for on an on-the-spot assessment of the incident.

Meanwhile, the family of Inspector Mark Ediale has demanded an independent investigation into the killing of three members of the Intelligence Response Team by soldiers in Taraba State.

They said only an independent probe and justice would assuage their loss of two family members in the incident.

Three policemen and a civilian were killed after they came under attack from soldiers while conveying Wadume to the state command headquarters in Jalingo on August 6.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Mark’s elder brother, Andrew, identified the civilian who died in the attack as Olajide Owolabi, his nephew, adding that he had been working with the IRT for about two years.

While condemning the killing of the policemen and his nephew, he also asked the Army to explain the reason for the attack as well as the release of the kidnap suspect by the soldiers.

Andrew said, “The inglorious killing of our brother in Taraba State while on official duty for this country, which he has served for 16 years, is unfortunate.

“We vehemently speak against the heinous act carried out by the Nigerian Army; We demand a very thorough investigation not only by the Nigerian government, but by international and independent bodies as well.

“Why was the kidnap kingpin released? The effort of the gallant police officers was not only compromised, their lives were equally cut short; we demand justice.”

The aggrieved family described the incident as a conspiracy, insisting that the law must take its course against the perpetrators, noting that the blood of the slain men was crying for justice.

Andrew added, “In spite of what they (police and military investigating panels) are doing, we want an independent investigation, it is not about compensation, we what justice to be done.

“The civilian that was killed is my younger sister’s son, Olajide Owolabi. He has been working with them (IRT) for the past two years now.”

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