It has been revealed that crowd of villagers who had gathered at the scene of the killing of police operatives on the trail of a kidnap kingpin in Taraba State saved two other operatives from being killed by the soldiers.
The two surviving operatives were taken to an army base, from where they were taken to hospital.
It will be recalled that members of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) team were in Taraba State to effect the arrest of notorious kidnapper, Hamisu Wandume.
Having gained access to him and had effected his arrest, three of the operatives were killed by soldiers, who claimed they acted on a distress call.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that the soldiers had first shot at the vehicle boarded by the policemen, resulting in somersault.
The three deceased police officers were still alive after the vehicle had come to a halt before they were reportedly shot dead by the soldiers.
A top intelligence and security source disclosed to the Nigerian Tribune that the IRT operatives, through tracking, had located the kidnap kingpin, Wadume, at in Ibi town, in Wukari area of Taraba State.
According to the source, the soldier had taken an order to attack the policemen who were on lawful duty of apprehending the suspected kidnap kingpin.
It was gathered that Wadume had been getting intelligence report from some alleged security personnel, a development that had made his arrest difficult.
The security source revealed that the operatives, while heading for Ibi to make the arrest, encountered military men at three checkpoints and had introduced themselves, exchanged pleasantries and chatted with them in the esprit de corps manner before they continued on their journey.
However, on their return journey, some soldiers at one of the checkpoints pulled the trigger and killed them.
Also, in a video footage made available to the seven-man joint investigative committee, the Nigerian Tribune gathered that the operatives were still alive after their vehicle somersaulted.
The source further disclosed that the arrest of the kidnap kingpin was carried out within 20 minutes because they had a tracker on him and the operatives had no problem returning as the soldiers at checkpoints recognised them.
The situation, however, changed as the operatives were attacked at the third military checkpoint.
The source said it was when the soldiers opened fire on their vehicle that the driver lost control, causing the vehicle to somersault.
Some of the operatives crawled out of the damaged vehicle and fled into the bush.
Those who got fatally injured, however, remained at the scene of the incident and were shot to death at close range by the soldiers.
The source added that two of the recovered corpses had bullet holes in their stomachs, while the other two had bullet holes in their chests.
The source said as soon as the news spread across Ibi town, villagers were seen recording the development with their phones, a development it said could expose the soldiers.
The two operatives who had managed to crawl to the bush were saved by the villagers who had thronged to the scene, as the source said the development made it difficult for the soldiers to kill them too and were taken to the hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, the police hierarchy has declared Alhaji Wadume wanted and have launched manhunt for his arrest.
Source: Nigerian Tribune