If you follow politics in Nigeria, then the events of last weekend must have caused you some concern. The Nigerian army released a statement on Twitter ‘explaining’ the events that had led to the escape of a kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, who had been arrested by members of the highly lauded Special Intelligence Response Team of the Nigerian Police. The IRT team had been transporting Wadume and some accomplices when their van was attacked by soldiers of the Nigerian army. Three police officers and a civilian were killed, and 4 others injured.
The Nigerian police countered the Nigerian army’s statement with one of their own, alleging that the elements within the Nigerian Army had colluded with Alhaji Wadume to facilitate his escape. Further investigation suggests that the police’s accusations were indeed not unfounded and that captain of the Nigerian army who is on Alhaji Wadume’s payroll had ordered the attack on the IRT’s crack force.
According to this report by the Eagle Online, the IRT team had been stopped by three military checkpoints on their way Taraba State to apprehend Alhaji Wadume based on information they had previously received. It was the surveillance team at one of these checkpoints that opened fire on the IRT during their return with Wadume. The soldier who perpetrated the attack had labelled the slain policemen as kidnappers and tried to explain away their actions but amateur video taken by villagers who had gathered, alerted by gunshots have video where the injured policemen identified themselves and their mission. The intervention of the villagers also allegedly saved the lives of the police officers who had survived the accident.
A lot of the conversation on social media that has followed this attack has focused on the police’s own history of corruption, violence and unprovoked attacks. People are hard pressed to sympathize with the Nigerian police over this breach of process and gross injustice, but we must all realise that eventually, this injustice will affect us, one way or the other. Nepotism and corruption will affect us, so we must all demand justice for the policemen who, lost their lives trying to prove that the Nigerian police can indeed function for the people.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.