The Nigerian Police on Wednesday revealed that 3 of their men and one civilian had been shot dead by soldiers believed to be attached to the 93 Battalion in Bakun, Taraba State. They also alleged that the policemen who were killed were holding a kidnap kingpin who recently has been suspected to run a string of successful kidnap-for-ransom operations. The police was very distraught as they saw this, not only as a clear assassination of their officers but also, as sabotage of the security architecture of the nation.
Shortly after the allegation, the Nigerian Army headquarters equally released a statement explaining the reason for the unfortunate incident. The army claimed that the policemen did not identify themselves and that they were seen as suspected kidnappers.
But to the police and many Nigerians who have somehow found some humour in the sad incident, the explanation given by the army was ridiculous at best. Given that the police officers were on a covert operation and as a result could not be identified by the soldiers as claimed, why did the soldiers free the kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu, without any approval from their superiors?
The police, rightly, were quick to point at a coordinated attempt to free the suspect, Alhaji Hamisu – who reportedly just recently executed the collection of N100 million ransom payment from a kidnap victim in Taraba State. Other conspiracy theories have filtered in stating that Hamisu must have used his extensive wealth and network to buy his freedom by co-opting the services of rogue army officers from the 93 Battalion. No one would have ever imagined the likes of what we see in the movies where convoys of arrested criminals get hijacked midway to a security safe house and are freed.
This incident may seem like an unimportant event, but it greatly reflects the extent of the rot and the corruption which has eaten deep into the nation’s security services. Sometimes, when we hear of cases of soldiers at the war front being sabotaged and/or ambushed, we are reluctant to believe it. The exposure of the rot in the army by the police hierarchy has given the army little room to hide. The matter is now in the court of public opinion and this covering up of executive messes cannot be swept under the carpet.
Though the police has loads of unfortunate incidents connected with their high-handedness with civilian relationship, where innocent people get shot at their whim, they have at least succeeded in pulling the loyalty of the populace to demand for accountability from the Nigerian Army this time around.
And if at all this is an error in judgment as claimed by the army, it now behooves the presidency to find ways by which it will harmonise the intelligence operations of the these security agencies. Failing to resolve this shows that we have lost an instrumental part of what holds this nation together.