Taraba Attack: Nigerian Army issues advisory to soldiers on handling police anger

Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official webpage of the Nigerian Army]
Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official webpage of the Nigerian Army]

The Nigerian Army has issued an advisory for all soldiers to tread carefully anywhere they sight police officers in the coming weeks.

The directive comes as anger intensified over the killing of police officers in Taraba last week.

The officers were on a covert operation to nab a suspected kidnap kingpin when soldiers from 93 Battalion suddenly opened fire on them, killing three officers and a civilian on the spot.

The suspect was also set free by the soldiers in the August 6 incident.

The police identified the suspect as Hamisu Wadume, expressing grave disappointment that soldiers would set free a man that had been on detectives’ radar for several years before they finally had a chance to take him into custody.

Although the army admitted soldiers killed the police officers and a civilian in a bus the police team was riding in along a major Taraba road, it blamed the incident on communication gap and disclosed its readiness to cooperate with investigation.

The police, however, took serious exception to the military’s description of the police officers as suspected kidnappers due to the manner they conducted themselves during the operation.

President Muhammadu Buhari sued for calm amongst the services and urged a thorough investigation of the violence.

On Sunday evening, an August 9 advisory that alerted soldiers to public statements of the police was leaked online.

“Inciting and inflammatory comments are being made by the NPF on the regular and social media platform,” the advisory said, adding that it was “capable” of “inciting” police officers “to exhibit aggressive tendencies” towards soldiers.

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Felix Omoigui, a brigadier-general who circulated the alert on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said soldiers should avoid being in uniform if necessary to prevent the situation from escalating.

“Formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings” with police officers in the aftermath of the killings, Mr Omoigui said.

Troops travelling on pass were urged “to do so in mufti.”

Frank Mba, a spokesperson for the Force Headquarters, declined comment.
“I have absolutely nothing to say on this. I am not in receipt of such communication, either,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

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