The Board of Inquiry set up by the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, put together at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari has recommended sanctions for five personnel of the Nigerian Army and the police over the killing of three policemen and one civilian in Ibi, Taraba State, on August 6.
The board, in a statement by the DHQ on Tuesday, identified the officers to face disciplinary sanctions to include; Captain Tijani Balarabe, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye of the Ibi Police Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Aondoona Iorbee, and Inspector Aliyu Dadje.
The panel said the officers must be taken through “necessary disciplinary measures.”
It was also recommended that further investigation be conducted on Hamisu Bala, the Taraba kidnap kingpin, for gunrunning.
Recall that the killing provoked national outrage, especially with the manner in which the policemen and a civilian on national assignment were brutally gunned down even after identifying themselves to the soldiers manning the checkpoints at Ibi-Jalingo Road in Taraba State. It had also triggered a rift between the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army.
The rift had, indeed, run through the panel deliberations, as both the army and the police stuck to their different positions on the incident and insisted on appropriate sanctions.
Intelligence agencies, in the course of the work of the panel, established 190 phone exchanges between the kidnap suspect, Wadume, and Captain Tijani Balarabe, the officer in charge of the army team at the Ibi-Wukari Road checkpoint and who actually ordered the shooting of the policemen and the civilian involved.
The release of Wadume by Captain Balarabe before his re-arrest by the police and the telephone conversations between them and a Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) in Jalingo substantially established a strong connection between the duo and the culpability of the army officer and other soldiers involved.
Wadume had before the panel admitted involvement in gunrunning, especially high calibre automatic weapons, notably AK 47 rifles. This raises another poser with regard to the interaction between security agencies and criminal gangs in Nigeria and the challenge it poses to national security.