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Army authorities caution troops over police killing, direct them to travel in mufti

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Nigerian army authority has told troops to be “circumspect” in their dealings with members of the Nigerian police after three policemen were killed by Nigerian soldiers in Taraba State.

Nigerian Army claimed the killings were in error. But Nigerian police insisted that the troops deliberately killed a few of its best officers who were on an undercover operation.

The police said a suspected kidnapper arrested and restrained with handcuffs was set by the troops. It insisted that the Nigerian Army had questions.

Fearing that the heightened tensions between the two security agencies may degenerate further, the army said its officer must be careful in their encounters with men and officers of the Nigerian police.

“All troops on IS (Internal Security) duty as well as personnel travelling in and out of uniform are to be circumspect in their conduct to avoid escalation,” Brigadier General Felix Omoigui said on behalf of the chief of army in a letter dispatched to different army formations.

“Consequently, formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings with members of the NP in view of this development. Troops travelling on pass are to endeavour to do so in mufti.”

The dead policemen were members of the Intelligence Response Team.

Army spokesman Sagir Musa said the soldiers attacked the police in response to a distress call from members of the community to rescue a kidnapped victim.

Musa added that the police also refused to stop at three consecutive times at army checkpoints and failed to identify themselves as police, hence, prompting the army to suspect them as the kidnappers.

“The flagrant refusal of the suspected kidnappers to stop at the three checkpoints prompted a hot pursuit of the fleeing suspects by the troops,” Musa said.

“It was in this process that the suspected kidnappers who were obviously armed opened fire at the troops sporadicaly thus prompting them to return fire,” Musa alleged.

“It was only after this avoidable outcome that one of the wounded suspects disclosed the fact that they were indeed policemen dispatched from Nigerian Police, Force Headquarters, Abuja for a covert assignment.”

However, the police said army’s claims were “obvious distortion of facts” and said it was “not true” that the policemen failed to identify themselves as alleged by the army.

Police’s spokesman Frank Mba said it was “insensitive, disrespectful and unpatriotic” of the army to have described “policemen on lawful National Assignment as ‘suspected kidnappers’”

Police further demanded the army to provide the arrested kidnap suspect who got freed during the encounter and “now on the run.”

President Muhammadu Buhari has also directed the Defence Headquarters to commence immediate investigation of the clash.

Presidency spokeman Garba Shehu said the president “would take decisive action as soon as the report of the panel is submitted to him.”


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