Godwin Tsa Abuja
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), yesterday took over the prosecution of the alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin, Bala Hamisu, popularly called Wadume, and 19 others from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
The IGP had on February 3, 2020, slammed 16 counts of terrorism, murder, kidnapping, and illegal arms running against the 20 defendants, among whom are two police officers and 10 soldiers. When the case came up before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court yesterday, only six out of the 20 defendants, including Wadume, were present in court.
Meanwhile, a counsel from the office of the AGF, Labaran Magaji, who announced appearance for the prosecution, informed the court that the AGF took over the case and received the case file from the police on Tuesday. He, accordingly, requested an adjournment to enable him to make moves for the production of all the defendants in court.
Magaji said: “The AGF office applied to take over the prosecution of the criminal charge. We were handed over the file yesterday (Tuesday). The case has about 20 defendants, but only six defendants are present in court.
“In the circumstances, we shall be asking for a short adjournment for the purpose of bringing all the suspects named in the charge.
“The prosecution shall do the needful to ensure that the case takes off immediately.”
Defence lawyers that were present in court did not oppose the request for adjournment. The judge adjourned the matter till 10.30am on June 8.
It would be recalled that Justice Nyako had ordered the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to release 10 army officers for ongoing criminal prosecution. The 10 officers have been charged alongside the suspected kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, popularly called Wadume.
Justice Nyako made the order for the soldiers to be produced, after the prosecuting lawyer, Simon Lough, told the court that the army authorities ‘snubbed’ the letter by the police requesting the 10 defendants to be produced for arraignment.
Lough is the lawyer prosecuting the 20 defendants on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police. He had told the court that the police authorities had written the Chief of Army Staff asking for the soldiers since January 2020 but that they failed to comply.