The trial of suspected Taraba State kidnap kinpin, Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume, began yesterday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, before Justice Binta Nyako.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Wadume, alongside six other defenants, was, on June 8, arraigned on 13 counts bordering on terrorism. The other defendants are Insp. Aliyu Dadje, Auwalu Bala, Uba Bala, Bashir Waziri, Zubairu Abdullahi and Rayyanu Abdul.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, took over the matter from the police on June 3.
Although 10 soldiers were initially slated in the charges, their names were later removed in the case.
At the commencement of the trial, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Felix Adolije, told the court how he and his team members were attacked by the soldiers after the arrest of Wadume on August 6, 2019. The 10 soldiers attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum in Taraba were alleged to have helped Wadume to escape from the policemen. The troops led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe allegedly killed three policemen and two civilians, while five other police officers were injured, during the soldiers’ attack.
Adolije, who was the leader of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of the Police office that arrested Wadume in Ibbi, Taraba, appeared in the case as the first prosecution witness in the trial yesterday.
In his testimony, Adolije said: “I thank the Almighty God for being alive, and stand before you this morning.”
The officer, who was led in evidence by Mr. Magaji Labaran, prosecuting counsel from the office of the AGF, told the judge how the investigation into the kidnap case was ignited by a petition sent to the IGP’s office.
He said the petition showed that the suspects, who were yet to be identified at the time, were demanding N200m ransom. He said the analysis of four phone numbers with which the suspects were making the demand led his team to “a soft target” in Taraba, Bashir, who in turn led them to Wadume in Ibbi on August 6, 2019.
He said his team comprising six IRT officers departed Abuja for Jalingo, the Taraba capital, on August 5, 2019.
He told the judge how he and his team members arrived the headquarters of the Taraba Command in Jalingo on August 6, 2019 to brief the Commissioner of Police about their mission.
According to him, the team was given an introduction letter to the Area Command in Wukare, where their arrival was documented and were also issued document to back their mission to Ibbi Police Station, from where they would set out to arrest Wadume.
He said: The “soft target” named Bashir, now deceased, led them to Wadume’s house in Ibbi, Taraba.
“The pointer was with us and he led us to the street where the main target lived. On getting there, he pointed to the main target from inside the bus.
“So, I came down with Inspector Sani, in our complete uniforms with out cap and jacket. I asked Sani to remain standing by the bus. I brought my identity card out. I realised that the target was with 10 boys lying down on the mat. I showed him my identity card. I told him we were policemen from IRT in Abuja. I told him that there was a case we were investigating and that his attention was needed in Abuja.
“Neither he nor any of his boys asked any question. Quietly, he got up and followed me to our bus.
“I asked him to follow us and he followed us. There was no argument between us and anybody. We entered the bus. I asked one of my boys inside the bus to restrain him. Then we drove back to the police station.”
He said he informed the station officer that they had completed their mission and was heading back to Abuja.
He said unknown to them, the soldiers at the last of the three checkpoints they encountered while arriving the town had been alerted about their mission.
Justice Nyako, therefore, adjourned until July 1 for cross-examination of Adolije by defence lawyers.
The judge also fixed July 1 for ruling.