The four policemen who were killed in an ambush by bandits at Jankasa Village of Rigasa, in Chikun Local Government of Kaduna State on Saturday, were in high spirits while coming back from an operation that succeeded in busting the den of notorious kidnappers who had a week before, abducted a renown Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Al-Garkawy and collected ransom before releasing him.
A four were part of the team of policemen from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Rapid Response Team (IRT and had successfully raided the hideout of the kidnap suspects and arrested two of the suspects while recovering a large cache of arms.
On their way back however, the team ran into an ambush losing four of its men, Sergeant Emmanuel Istifanus from Plateau State; Mamman Abubakar from Kano State; Odibo Bernard from Delta State and Haruna Ibrahim from Yobe state.
The IRT unit headed by DCP Abba Kyari had raided the village based on a tip from a kidnap suspect who was tracked down through his phone and earlier arrested and taken to Abuja for questioning.
The suspect had on interrogation provided useful information about the other members of the gang who had kidnapped the Sheik.
One of the policemen who survived the ambush told our correspondent on conditions that his identity remains hidden that the arrested suspect who he identified as Shuiab, had led the team to the village after he confirmed from the gang members that they were at the hideout.
“They did not know he had been arrested, so he was still communicating with them. He asked one of the members who is his close friend if they were still there and he confirmed that that they were. He even asked him about certain persons and he also affirmed that they were all around,” he said.
The source said the suspect was also able to confirm that the man who collected the N3 million ransom money is in Kano.
“He now led us to the hideout. But on getting there, the bandits suspected we were security operatives and opened fire at us. We replied them with our guns and killed six of them but the others took to their heels and ran into the bushes.
“We searched the mud house where they were hiding and discovered a cache of arms. There other buildings few meters from that particular hut. We combed the bushes around there for about two hours but did not find them.”
The source said they put the corpses in the only Hi-lux van that came with them and instructed the driver not to go through the road passing through Rigasa as that would attract attention because of the bodies in the truck.
He said while the Hi-lux took a different route, the rest of them that were in unmarked cars took the road leading towards Rigasa not knowing that the bandits had gone ahead to wait for them.
He said while driving, they passed by many villagers who were walking on the sides of the road so had no reason to suspect other road users.
The source said but on getting to a particular spot, some men standing by the side of the road quickly lined up in front of the road and as the vehicles approached driving slowly due to the bad conditions of the road, they drew out their weapons shooting at the same time.
He said the shots were from both the right side of the road and ahead of them.
“The vehicle conveying the four slain policemen was the one in front and the shot the four at dangerous places. It was only the driver of the vehicles that was not hit.
Those of us behind quickly came down. It would have been quicker if we were in an open vehicle but because we were in a salon car and they took us unaware, they were able to get at the front vehicle before we chased them with our shots when we came down,” the source said.
He said the bandits operated like those who had military training as even when they were running, they were giving one another covering fire and shooting at their direction until they escaped.
The police had on Sunday confirmed the killing of the four men.
Statement by the force public relations officer in Kaduna had stated that “At about 0630hrs of Saturday, a team of detectives attached to IGP IRT while on operation along Jankasa village of Rigasa Kaduna, were ambushed by armed bandits. After a fierce gun battle, four of our policemen paid the supreme sacrifice.”