A leaked memo from the Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai directing soldiers to henceforth be circumspect in their dealings with the Police over the Taraba incident might have deepened disaffection within the military and security forces, The Nation has learnt.
Buratai, in a memo signed on his behalf by Brig.-Gen. Felix Omoigui, directed all troops on IS (Internal Security) duty as well as personnel travelling in and out of uniform to be circumspect in their conduct to avoid escalation of the problem.
“Consequently, formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings with members of the NP in view of this development. Troops travelling on pass are to endeavour to do so in mufti,” the memo dated 9th August which was reportedly dispatched to different army formations across the country stated.
But a source confirmed the said memo was leaked to the media by the Police to create tension within the security circles and continue to put the Army on the defensive over the matter.
The source said unless the Presidency steps up efforts to douse tension and acrimony created by the Taraba incident, the two security institutions would henceforth be working at cross purposes, a development that would render the works of the investigative panels “as dead on arrival”.
Already the Defence Headquarters has set up a joint investigative panel headed by Rear Admiral I. T. Olaiya and has a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, the Nigerian Police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu also set up a probe Panel headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Police to unravel the circumstances surrounding the killings of the three police detectives by troops of 93 Battalion, Takum.
Even though the Nigerian Army, through its spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said the killings were in error, a response from the police spokesman, Frank Mba raising fresh posers for the Army on circumstances surrounding the incident and the escape of a suspected kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, immediately put the Army on the defensive.
The impression was thus created that the killings of the police undercover agents were deliberate.
The Army authorities have since refused to answer inquiries on the matter, insisting that there was no need to give further clarifications on the issues raised by the Police Force Public Relations Officer, DSP Frank Mba.
However, fearing that the heightened tensions between the two security agencies may degenerate further, the army said in the leaked memo that its officer must be careful in their encounters with men and officers of the Nigerian police.
However, a security source maintained that the damage has already being done considering the way and manner the Police have been taking the matter.
The source expressed worry that the development would not only create a gap in joint operations but would deepen disaffection and suspicion within the ranks and file of the security institutions notwithstanding the outcome of the investigative panels from both sides.
The source advised that the Presidency could yet prevent further damage and acrimony by setting up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the matter and enjoin the leadership of the Army and the Police to view the issues from a more matured perspective order than the panic measures being adopted in the military and security circles.