By Eric Elezuo
The deaths of Inspector Eddie Edidale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa in Taraba State while on official assignment by alleged trigger-happy soldiers of the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, in Takum, Taraba State, took many by surprise.
The reasons for the surprise lies in the fact that the army, surprisingly unlike the counterparts in the Police Force, are not known to be trigger happy as they boast of adequate and excellent training. Again, it is said that the soldiers are so disciplined in the use of arms, shoot only when they have express command from a superior. So why did these particular soldiers snuff the life out of three promising cops even when it was said they revealed their identity.
In the army’s press statement, the it has claimed that the policemen were mistaken for kidnappers, and so fire was opened on them. But the Police have faulted the claim, saying the slain cops were well identified before being executed at close range.
The deaths have pitched public sympathy for the police against the army in a sudden turn of events. The army, hitherto, has been well respected following their no nonsense stand and risk in the territorial defence of the nation. More so as many of them are being slaughtered almost on a daily basis at various insurgency wars across the length and breadth of the country in recent times.
The army don’t just shoot and kill; the police are believed to posses such unenviable status. And of course, a lot of instance abound where the police have snuffed life out of Innocent citizens, sometimes for little or no provocation.
The situation now has therefore become suspicious. The reason is not farfetched: if the soldier has to kill in this manner, he definitely did so via instruction, and soldiers don’t joke with superior instructions. This has raised the question: who ordered the massacre of the there policemen. Who is interested in the release a notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Amisu Bala Wadume, who was successfully apprehended by the police.
As to be expected, considering the no love lost relationship of the police and army over time, the force headquarters has faulted the defence headquarters claims of mistaken identity. They have therefore posited certain queries for the army among which is the whereabouts of the kidnapper-victim whom they claimed to have rescued and the identity of the so called whistle blower who alerted them.
It is obvious that the army cannot give answers to these queries as there are in the real sense no answers to them.
Maybe for the first time, Nigerians seem to be on the side of the police, and bluntly ask the army to speak the truth in this matter, no matter whose ox is gored. It is a good thing however, that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a detailed investigation into the matter. But then, most Nigerians have lost fate in the enquires of the Buhari administration, claiming that nothing will come out of it, and the case will be swept under the carpet like many others in the past.
Howbeit, the Police is not the only the casualty here, the entire nation, even the person or persons at whose behest the gallant officers were slaughtered and Wadume escaped. This is because a criminal will always remain a criminal. Who knows who he will come after tomorrow.
The trio of Edaile, Danzumi and Musa were reported as among the stars of the force, whose discipline, proficiency and hardwork were worthy of emulation.
They had distinguished themselves in various field assignments including the arrest of notorious kidnapper Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, in 2017, rescue of Musa Umar Uba, an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was in captivity for two months and the arrest of Umar Abdulmalik, a Boko Haram commander, as well as 22 Boko Haram terrorists responsible for the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno.
While everyone mourns the irresponsible killing of the officers, a clarion call is made to the army to redeem its honour and unmask the bad eggs in its ranks, produce the captured or released kidnapper. That will go a long way to assuage the anger of the Nigerian populace.