Falana Writes Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Malami, Requests Arrest, Prosecution Of 10 Soldiers Involved In Killing Of Three Policemen And Two Civilians In Taraba State

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of 10 army personnel involved in the killing of three policemen and two civilians in Taraba State in August 2019.

The incident took place after policemen attached to the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team were taking a notorious kidnapper, Hamisu Wadume to the police headquarters in Jalingo, the state capital, after his arrest.

In a letter on Monday to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Falana said that without the arrest and prosecution of the soldiers responsible for the deaths of the policemen and civilians, justice cannot be served on the matter.

The latter reads partly, “We are solicitors to the bereaved family of the late ASP Felix Adolije, who was a dutiful member of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team. 

“Our clients’ instructions are briefly stated as follows: On Tuesday, August 6, 2019, ASP Felix Adolije led the team of policemen that arrested an alleged kidnap suspect, Hamisu Bala (alia Wadume) who had been terrorising the people of Taraba State for over two years.

“While ASP Felix Adolije and the team were transporting the kidnap suspect to the police headquarters in Jalingo, Taraba State, they were pursued and accosted by a gang of soldiers led by one Captain Ahmed Tijjani Balarabe. The soldiers forcefully freed the suspect and embarked on the gruesome murder of three policemen and two civilians in cold blood. Five other policemen sustained life-threatening injuries during the attack.

“Notwithstanding the abortive attempt to cover up the dastardly act of the alleged killer-soldiers by the authorities of the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force investigated the case. However, the alleged kidnap kingpin was rearrested by the police. In the course of his investigation, the suspect gave details of the criminal activities perpetrated by him with the connivance of a number of soldiers and policemen.

“The request of the police investigation team to interrogate the 10 soldiers, who were indicted in the killing of the three policemen and two civilians as well as the kidnap of members of the public in Taraba State was turned down by the army authorities.

“When the case was mentioned in court on March 16, 2020, the police prosecutor rightly applied for an order for the production of the soldiers indicted in the investigation conducted into the gruesome murder of the policemen in Taraba State. In granting the application, the presiding judge, the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako, ordered the Chief of Army Staff or any person, who has the custody of the indicted soldiers to produce them in court to face trial. 

“Instead of using your position as the chief law officer of the federation to ensure compliance with the court order in line with the provisions of section 287 of the constitution of Nigeria, your office took over the case from the police prosecutor, amended the charge and withdrew the case against the suspects.

“In view of the gravity of the 16-count charge of terrorism, murder and kidnapping pending in court against the 20 suspects, you will agree with us that the withdrawal of the case against the alleged 10 killer-soldiers is not in consonance with section 174 of the constitution, which provides for the take over and withdrawal of pending criminal case “in the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process”.

“Stemming from the foregoing, we hereby request immediate compliance with the valid and subsisting order of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, by ensuring that the suspects, who are at large are produced by the Chief of Army Staff or whoever has their custody so that they can be arraigned and tried in accordance with the law.

“Take notice that if you fail to accede to our request within seven days of the receipt of this letter, we shall not hesitate to take appropriate action under the law in order to ensure the slain police officers and civilians do not die in vain.”