Molly Kilete, Abuja
The murder of former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, was a purely criminal act, with no political undertone as had been speculated by some, said the joint panel set up by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) to investigate the killing, on Wednesday.
Chairman of the panel Major-General Bamidele Shafa made the revelation at a media briefing held to parade the suspected killers at the Defence Headquarters Garrison in Abuja.
Gen Shafa, surrounded by other members of the panel, said the panel arrived at its conclusion after a discrete and intensive investigation
“After thorough and exhaustive investigations, the panel made the following findings: the attack and killing of Air Chief Marshall AS badeh (retd) on 18 December, 2018 was criminal and does not have any political undertone,” the General stated.
Addressing the media, the chairman of the investigating panel said: “One of the terms of reference for my panel was to determine the circumstances surrounding the killing of the former CDS. And as press people you are aware that when this incident happened there were all sorts of stories in the air. So, my committee has that responsibility to determine whether those stories were true or not. And from all evidence that were presented before my panel, there was nothing, I say again there was nothing, that suggested that there was a political undertone to the attack and killing of former Chief Of Defence Staff.
“It was purely criminal, orchestrated by a few criminals – some of whom we have arrested and we have paraded to you this morning.”
He listed those who played a major role in the killing to include: Aliyu USMAN, 35; Shuaibu Rabo, 25; Yahaya Nuhu, 18; Muhammed Musa aka Alhaji Lamido Tahara, 45; Ibrahim Abdulahi aka Baba, 30; and Jibrin Ibrahim, 51.
He also listed items recovered from the suspects to include one AK-47 rifle, one dane gun, and other dangerous weapons.
Gen Shafa said the panel comprising 27 members, including an attorney, were drawn from the Defence Headquarters, Army Headquarters, Naval Headquaners, Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police and the Department of State Service.
The panel was also assisted by 21 investigators and operatives drawn from the national services and agencies.
Detailing how the investigation proceeded, Shafa said “On 18 December, 2018 the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, (retired) was attacked and gruesomely killed along Kachia Keffi Highway while returning from his farm. Consequently, the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), Nigeria Police (NPF) and Department of State Service (DSS) sprang into action independently to uncover and apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous act. In order to ensure a thorough and well-coordinated investigation, the CDS, General AG Olonisakin constituted a Joint Investigation Panel under the coordination of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) to take over the investigation.
“In carrying out its task, the panel was guided along by the following terms and reference:
“a. Ascertain the circumstances leading to the attack and death of Air Chief Marshall AS Badeh.
“b. Identify and apprehend the persons involved in the attack and killing of the former CDS; Recover properties connected to the case and; Make appropriate findings and recommendations as necessary.”
Continuing, Gen Shafa said that, during its investigation, the panel, guided by the terms of reference,
“a. Accepted into custody 20 suspects earlier arrested by the Services and Agencies.
“b. Accepted into custody all items/properties recovered in relation to the case by the Services and Agencies.
“c. Obtained cautionary statements from the 20 suspects and cross-examlned them accordingly.
“d. Categorized the suspects into key suspects, circumstantial suspects and accomplices. All suspects not directly linked to the case have since been released on the instruction of the Convening Authority.
“e. Interviewed 36 witnesses.
“f. Visited the scene of the incident.
“g. Searched suspects’ homes where one AK-47 rifle, one Dane gun and other dangerous items were recovered.
“h. Conducted ballistic examination of associated fire arms.
“i. Verified associated bank accounts.
“j. Conducted autopsy examination of the deceased.”
After thorough and exhaustive investigations. the panel made the following findings:
“The attack and killing of Air Chief Marshal AS Badeh (rtd) on 18 December, 2018 was criminal and does not have any political undertone.”
He said, “Twenty persons were involved in the crime, out of which 15 have been arrested. It is expected that the remaining suspects will be arrested in due course.
“The 15 suspects in custody confessed to their direct involvement in the crime.
“The suspects employed automatic weapons and locally made guns in the attack and killing of Air Chief Marshal AS Badeh (retd). This was buttressed by the result of the Autopsy examination and weapons recovered from the residence of the suspects.
“Some of the major suspects who are being paraded today are as follows:
“a. Aliyu Usman aka Chiroma. Aliyu Usman AKA Chiroma is 35 years old. He is a major suspect and the ring leader of the notorious gang. He was arrested in Kowo Panda Development Area of Nasarawa state. He confessed to how he was contracted by one Alhaji Maube Gaini living in Kare village. Aliyu Usman played the role of leading the attack by recruiting 6 other gang members to attack and rob a “Wealthy Man” who owns a farm within Panda area. The wealthy man later turned out to be Air Chief Marshal Badeh (rtd). He invited other gang members for the attack and supplied 5 AK 47 rifles and a single barrel gun. He also admitted that he carted away a black bag containing unspecified amount of money from the deceased’s vehicle, which he handed over to Abdullahi Ibrahim aka Baba who also admitted to receiving the bag in question.
“b. Shuaibu Rabo. Shuaibu Rabo is 25 years. He was identified as the second in command of the gang. He was arrested in Barde village in Kaduna state. He confessed that Usman Aliyu aka Chiroma brought the job to him in Jitata asking him to mobilize other members of the gang from Barde village, where he lives. He was responsible for recruiting 2 others namely, Yahaya Nuhu and Rabo for the attack. He was handed a single barrel gun by Chiroma and others were given AK47 rifles by same Chiroma with which they committed the crime.
“c. Yahaya Nuhu. Yahaya Nuhu is 18 years old. He was arrested in Barde village of Kaduna. He confessed to the crime, admitting to meeting both Chiroma and Shuaibu at the market, prior to the crime and took Shuiabu on the bike to the place of the attack.
“d. Musa Muhammed aka Alhaji Lamido Tahara. Musa Muhammed is 45 years old. He was identified as the third in command of the gang. He was arrested in Keffi, Nasarawa State. Upon investigation, he confessed to the crime and explained how he was invited by Chiroma for the armed robbery operation and was given one (1) AK47 rifle by Chiroma with whom he operated.
“e. Ibrahim Abdullahi aka Baba. Ibrahim Abdullahi is 30 years old. He is an errand boy to Alhaji Maube Gaini, the Mastermind and facilitator of the attack and killing of the late Air Chief Marshall Barde. He confessed to be an errand boy to Alhaji Maube. That on the day of the incident, he rode with Alhaji Maube on a motorcycle given to him by Alhaji to Gitata area with a sack containing some items. He revealed that afterwards, Maube met Chiroma and one other while he was asked to wait behind a nearby farm. And that the duo later returned to join him about an hour later with the same sack and a black bag which was kept on his motorcycle. He disclosed that as he conveyed Maube on the bike back home. Accidentally, the sack fell off the motorcycle as they arrived Maube’s house, and there he saw that the sack contained 2 AK 47 rifles. He did not however report the incident to any law enforcement agency.
“f. Jibrin Ibrahim. Jibrin Ibrahim, 51 years is the owner of the SIM cards used in demanding and negotiating for ransome before the release of Engr. Joseph Okpetu, a friend of late Air Chief Marshal Badeh.”
Gen Shafa added that “Aside the killing of late Air Chief Marshal Badeh (rtd), the suspects also admitted that they kidnapped one Engineer Joseph Okpetu who was later released after the payment of Two Million Naira (N2,000,000.00) ransom.”
Concluding the presentation of the findings of the investigation, Shafa said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the 15 suspects in custody are, hereby, presented to the public and formally handed over to the appropriate agency for further investigation and prosecution.”