The kidnap kingpin in Taraba State, Hamisu Bala, popularly known as Wadume, has been sentenced to seven years in jail for escaping from lawful custody and unlawfully dealing in prohibited ammunitions and firearms.
Penpushing reports that, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja found the convict guilty on counts 2 and 10 of the 13 charges preferred against him and six others by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The judge also jailed a police inspector, Aliyu Dadje, and four of Wadume’s co-defendants charged in the case of tampering with evidence, aiding and abetting, and unlawful possession of firearms, but the prosecution failed to prove the charges of kidnapping against Wadume.
Penpushing further reports that, it is recalled that, Wadume was first arrested in Ibi town, Taraba State, by members of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of Police (IRT-IGP) on 6 August, 2019.
The kidnap kingpin, while being taken to Abuja from Ibi, some soldiers belonging to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, led by an Army Captain, Tijjani Balarabe, aided his escape from the custody of the police personnel.
Penpushing also reports that, the army captain- led troops allegedly shot at the police personnel in the vehicle conveying Wadume to Abuja, and in the process three police officers and two civilians were killed while five others were wounded in the attack aimed at freeing Wadume from police custody.
The police later re-arrest Wadume in Kano, and in February 2020 charged him along with the army captain and 18 others with various offences including terrorism, kidnapping, murder, and unlawful possession of firearms.
Penpushing reports that, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, on power covers on him, took over the case from the police, and , in June 2020, controversially amended the charges to exempt the army captain and the nine other soldiers charged as co-accused from the case.
The Attorney General contrary to the 20 initially charged by the police, only Wadume and six others were named as the defendants after the office amended the charges and reduced the number of counts from 16 to 13.
Penpushing further reports that Wadume and six others were eventually prosecuted on 13 counts of kidnapping, detention of kidnap victim, Usman Garba, and collection of the ransom of N106 million from the victim before releasing him.
The six other co-defendants are Aliyu Dadje (a police Inspector), Auwalu Bala, Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) Bashir Waziri (aka Baba Runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul, while the prosecution was led by Shuaibu Labaran and Yetunde Cole, both of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Penpushing also reports that, the judge equally convicted and sentenced, Dadje, who was a Station Officer at the Ibi Divisional Police Headquarters, Ibi Local Government Area, Taraba State, to three years on count seven for tampering with police records with intent to conceal a crime.
The convicted policeman on 6 August, 2019, was said to have willfully tampered with the entry made by the leader of the IGP-IRT team by tearing off the entry page to cover up for Captain Tijani Ahmed Balarabe and his team.
Penpushing reports that, the prosecution alleged that the station officer took this action upon knowing that an offence of terrorism had been committed by the army captain and his team, while the the judge convicted and sentenced Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) and Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) to seven years each on counts three, four, five, six and 11.
The duo, in the four counts, were charged with illegal possession and unlawful dealing in prohibited firearms and ammunition, while the judge also convicted and sentenced Abdul to three years for harbouring Wadume in his house in Kano after the prime suspect’s escape from police custody in Ibi.
Penpushing further reports that the court, however, struck out count one, in which Wadume was charged with kidnaping Usman Garba (aka Mayo) and collecting N106 million before releasing him, and in same vein discharged and acquitted Auwalu Bala (aka Omo Razor) and Bashir Wazlri (aka Baba Runs), who were listed as the 3rd and 5th defendants, for want of evidence.
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