The remains of three police officers and two civilians killed during the arrest of a kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala (Wadume), in Taraba State are still in the morgue following delay in court martialling of soldiers suspected to be culpable in the murders, Daily Trust reports.
Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa and two civilians including Bashir Faruk, were killed during a confrontation with soldiers along Ibi-Jalingo Road in Taraba State on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.
Sixty four days after the five were killed their bodies are still in the morgue in Abuja, their relatives said yesterday, and have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.
This is just as a joint panel of inquiry set up to investigate the matter has uncovered that both the police and military are to share blame for the incident.
The families of the slain officers and the civilian told Daily Trust that the bodies of their loved ones were being held because of delay in the completion of the investigation of the matter.
Faruk’s uncle, Ahmed Sajo Abubakar, lamented the delay in the release of the corpse of his nephew for burial in line with Islamic rites.
Abubakar, who is a staff of Taraba state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said, “We are feeling very bad that my nephew has not been buried two months after his death. As a Muslim, it is very unusual because the investigation has not been completed. We are still waiting for the release of his corpse.
“We want government to hasten the investigation, look at the report and take action on the killing of my nephew. We have not been contacted by the army. It is the police that have been contacting us.
“We are feeling very bad but we understand the nature of the work of my nephew; if it had been natural death it wouldn’t have been like this. We reason with the police authorities but not that we are happy about the situation.”
Also, wife of late Insp. Ediale, Olubumi, urged President Buhari to fast track the investigation on the killing of her husband.
In a telephone interview, Mrs. Ediale said, “It has not been easy because I’m a full housewife. He was the breadwinner of the family. We want justice; the killing of my husband and his colleagues should not be swept under the carpet.
“The family members say they will not bury him until they are told the cause of his death. We are calling on Mr. President to swiftly act on the matter and let justice prevail. We have not heard anything on the outcome of the investigation of the soldiers. We are feeling that nothing has been done on the killing of my husband.”
For his part, Sgt. Musa’s brother, Mr. Ahmed Audu, said the suspects should be severely punished to serve as deterrence to “bad eggs” in the system.
Mr. Audu said, “Our worry is that the corpse of our brother should be released to us. Government should act swiftly on the matter because this is a sensitive security matter. The killer soldiers must be severely punished to forestall future occurrence.”
Daily Trust gathered that the suspected soldiers have not been court martialled by the military authorities.
A security source familiar with the matter said, “We were told that they are still in military detention but they have not been court martialled, otherwise the affected police would have been invited by the military court.”
The source further said five AK-47 rifles, three pistols and other arms belonging to the police officers had not been released.
Another security source corroborated that, “The guns and other valuables of the police officers who participated in the operation to arrest Wadume have not been released by the military authorities.”
Senate to probe the matter
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Senate, Sen. Dayo Adeyeye, said the matter would certainly receive the attention of the upper chamber.
In a phone interview, Sen. Adeyeye said, “All matters that are of national interest, including the ones on security, are within the purview of the Senate. These are matters the Senate can deliberate on, these are matters that senators can bring to the floor even by way of motion.
“So, I expect that the matter will receive the attention of the Senate either by way of individual motion coming from a senator from that side of the country or somebody raising matter of urgent national importance. It would receive the attention of the Senate certainly in the nearest future.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Sen. Ali Ndume, said his committee would look into the matter.
Sen. Ndume said, “The committee has just been inaugurated and our first meeting will be held on Wednesday (today). The committee will take a decision on what to do when we meet. Definitely, we will ask questions because we have our oversight responsibility on the army.
“But as a senator in the army committee, coincidentally the chairman, I will want to find out what is going on, what has happened to the report submitted and what it says. This is my personal opinion; not that of the committee.”
Board seeks further probe of Capt. Balarabe, four cops
Meanwhile, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) into the matter, yesterday, released its report and has recommended that the army and police should further investigate Capt. Tijani Balarabe, Sergeant Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye, DCO Ibi Police Division, ASP Aondoona Iorbee, and Insp. Aliyu Dadje for complacency.
The BOI, in a statement by acting Director of Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, also recommended that further investigation be conducted on Hamisu Bala for gunrunning and possibly kidnapping.
It further recommended that the security services and other security agencies should establish an Interagency Liaison Desk to include senior officers for timely resolution of future misdemeanors.
The BOI was constituted following President Buhari’s directive.