A member of the Intelligence Response Team, ASP Felix Aidolije, who led the detectives that arrested a kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (Wadume), in Taraba State, has said soldiers commanded by Capt. Tijjani Balarabe fired at their vehicle with a machine gun.
Three policemen and two civilians died during the attack by the soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum.
The team leader said the soldiers who were in a Toyota Hilux chased them and fired several rounds which made their Toyota Hummer to somersault three times.
He further stated that a soldier shot at him as he crawled out of the crashed bus, adding that he pretended as if he was hit by the bullets.
The ASP stated these in his statement dated August 17, 2019, made to the Joint Investigation Panel set up by the Chief of Defence Staff.
The JIP included a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
The panel headed by Rear Admiral I. Olaiya probed the killing by the soldiers who also released Wadume on August 6, 2019.
Aidolije explained that his team had earlier identified themselves at three checkpoints manned by soldiers, riot and the conventional policemen while going to Ibbi to arrest Wadume.
The team leader stated that they picked up Wadume in Ibbi, in the midst of about 10 youths, adding that he simply followed them into the bus and was handcuffed and his legs chained.
As the operatives were returning from the operation, he said the soldiers at the checkpoint queried them about their trip, adding that the IRT told the soldiers that they were the police personnel who passed through earlier.
Aidolije stated, “One of the soldiers told us that ‘didn’t we know that the person (Wadume) in our bus is an influential man in Ibbi town,’ and I asked him to allow us to go because we are going far.
“As we passed the checkpoint, I saw a Toyota Picnic following us; next thing, I heard a gunshot and when I looked back, I saw a Hilux van mounted with a machine gun firing at us.
“It was then our vehicle somersaulted thrice, but the soldiers kept firing at us. It was by God’s grace that I crawled out of the vehicle and ran into the bush.
“I saw a soldier who fired at me, so I fell down; he thought I was hit by his bullets, but I crawled into the bush and ran. I saw one of my boys, Sgt. Emmanuel, and we hid till about 5:30 hours.”
The ASP added that they saw a motorcyclist who conveyed them to a village, but raised the alarm that they were kidnappers.
“The people started beating us with cutlasses; I brought out my ID card and one of them asked them to stop attacking us. The man took us to some mobile policemen on special duty around there. The policemen called a patrol vehicle from Area Command, Wukari, which took us to Wukari,” Aidolije said.
He disclosed that their service pistols and bags containing personal effects were stolen while the crashed vehicle was vandalised.
Wadume had in his statement identified 10 soldiers as his accomplices – Balarabe, Staff Sgt. David Isaiah, Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye, Private Mohammed Nura, Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon, Corporal Markus Michael, L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra, Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
But the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had inexplicably dropped the soldiers’ names from the case, drawing outrage from Nigerians.