Cops killing: Panel report delaying soldiers’ trial

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Chief-of-Defence-Staff-Abayomi-Olonisaki

The Defence Headquarters’ Joint Investigative Panel, which was constituted on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the killing of three policemen in Ibi, Taraba State, has failed to turn in its report after 21 days.

Military sources said the failure of the panel to submit its report to the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Olonisakin, was delaying the trial of the army officer, Captain Tijjani Balarabe, and soldiers, who had been in military detention since the first week of August.

A top military source noted that the panel, which was inaugurated on August 9, was supposed to submit its report today (Friday), adding that the trial of culpable army personnel might not begin until the first week of September.

The DHQ joint panel, headed by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Olaiya, sat for five days at the Defence Intelligence Agency, Abuja, during which it grilled soldiers, policemen, civilians and the re-arrested Taraba kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Wadume.

Our correspondent had reported on Monday that the indicted army personnel would be moved to the 3 Division headquarters, Jos, Plateau State, for a possible General Court Martial.

The panel extended its interrogations to officers at the Nigerian Army 23 Brigade in Yola, Adamawa State, which controls 93 Battalion, Takum, Taraba State, who are alleged to have issued instructions to the Commanding Officer of the unit in Ibi, Captain Balarabe.

A competent source said the failure of the panel to turn in its report during the week would slow down the trial of the army officer and soldiers, adding that the panel was dragging on the matter.

He said, “All eyes are on the panel’s report because it will determine the next line of military action. It will determine the start of trial of the army officer and soldiers who have been in detention. The panel’s report is dragging and it is raising concerns.”