Again, AGF, Army refuse to pro­duce killer-sol­diers as Wad­ume trial be­gins

The Punch - - Front Page - Ade Ade­s­o­moju, Abuja

TRIAL in the kid­nap case in­volv­ing Bala Hamisu, aka Wad­ume, be­gan at the Fed­eral High Court in Abuja on Mon­day, with an As­sis­tant Suprint­en­dent of Po­lice, Felix Adolije, nar­rat­ing how he and his team mem­bers came un­der a heavy fire from sol­diers after arresting the sus­pect in Ibbi, Taraba State, on Au­gust 6, 2019.

The 10 sol­diers at­tached to the 93 Bat­tal­ion in Takum, Taraba State, al­legedly 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.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion and Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had with­drawn charges against the 10 sol­diers who were in­dicted for al­legedly killing the three po­lice­men.

Sub­se­quently, of the 20 orig­i­nal de­fen­dants, only seven of them, in­clud­ing Wad­ume, are left by the AGF of­fice to face trial.

Adolije, who was the leader of the In­tel­li­gence Re­sponse Team of the In­spec­tor-gen­eral of the Po­lice of­fice that ar­rested Wad­ume in Ibbi, ap­peared in the case as the first pros­e­cu­tion wit­ness in the trial on Mon­day.

Adolije, who was led in ev­i­dence by Mr Ma­gaji Labaran, the prose­cut­ing coun­sel from the AGF of­fice, told Jus­tice Binta Nyako that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the kid­nap case was ig­nited by a pe­ti­tion sent to the In­spec­torGen­eral of Po­lice of­fice.

He said the pe­ti­tion showed that the sus­pects, who were yet to be iden­ti­fied at the time, de­manded 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 State, 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 State cap­i­tal, on Au­gust 5, 2019.

He told the judge that he and his team mem­bers ar­rived at the head­quar­ters of the Taraba State Po­lice Com­mand in Jalingo, on Au­gust 6, 2019 and briefed the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice in the state 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 they were is­sued a doc­u­ment to back their mis­sion to the Ibbi Po­lice Sta­tion, from where they set out to ar­rest Wad­ume.

He said, the “soft tar­get”named Bashir, now de­ceased, led them to Wad­ume’s house in Ibbi.

Adolije said, “The pointer led us to the street where the main tar­get lived. On get­ting there, he pointed to the tar­get from in­side the bus.

“I came down with In­spec­tor Sani in our com­plete uni­forms. I asked Sani to re­main stand­ing by the bus. I brought my iden­tity card out. The tar­get was with 10 boys ly­ing down on the mat.

“I showed him my iden­tity card. I told him we were po­lice­men from the 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 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 were head­ing back to Abuja.

He said, “As we were go­ing back, we got to the last army check­point which we en­coutered when we were com­ing in. The check­point was the first as we were go­ing out.

“They (the sol­diers) asked us to stop. They saw us in uni­form. Then, one of the sol­diers asked us where we were com­ing from. We told him we were the ones whom they passed about 30 min­utes ear­lier.

“Then one of them asked us if we did not know that the per­son in our ve­hi­cle was a very in­flu­en­tial per­son in the town? I al­ready alighted when he asked me that ques­tion.

“I said I didn’t know who even told him that we had made an ar­rest, and I told him, ‘please we are still go­ing far, al­low us to go’.

“Then he re­luc­tantly re­moved our bar­rier to al­low us to go.

“On get­ting to the sec­ond check­point mounted by some mo­bile po­lice­men, they only asked us if we were through. And we said yes.

“Then we headed to­wards the last one mounted by sol­diers. As we were mid way be­tween the mo­bile po­lice­men’s check­point and that of the sol­diers’ ahead, I saw a Sharon bus with full light.”

He said the sol­diers’ at the check­point re­moved the bar­rier with­out ask­ing any ques­tion, adding that their ve­hi­cle had barely passed when they started hear­ing gun­shots.

He said, “I saw an army Hilux with gun mounted on top, over­took the Sharon bus.

“The sol­diers started fir­ing. Then our bus som­er­saulted three times. I was seated with the driver in the front. He fell to my side. Then I strug­gled, by the grace of God, and came out of the ve­hi­cle.

“I left my AK-47 and pis­tol in­side the ve­hi­cle and started run­ning.”

He said he man­aged to scam­per to a tree for safety and quickly re­moved his uni­form.

He said his col­league, Sergeant Em­manuel, whom he came across around the place, also re­moved his uni­form.

He stated that it was around 7 or 7.30pm, adding that he and Em­manuel passed the night un­der the tree.

He said on get­ting to the main road be­tween 5.30am to 6am the fol­low­ing day, they sought the help of a motorcycli­st.

He said the motorcycli­st led them to a vil­lage where he ac­cused him and Em­manuel of be­ing kid­nap­pers, adding that they were given the worst beat­ing of their life.

Adolije said, “As they were beat­ing me, I held on to my iden­tity card, telling them that we were po­lice­men from Abuja.”

He said the youth leader in the vil­lage res­cued him and his col­league from the mob and took them a check­point manned by riot po­lice­men.

Asked where Wad­ume was after the at­tack, Adolije said, “He was with us in the bus be­fore the at­tack. When the bus som­er­saulted and ev­ery­body ran for his dear life, I did not know his po­si­tion at that time.”

He iden­ti­fied Wad­ume in the dock.

Wad­ume, who was limp­ing when he ap­peared in court, was al­lowed to sit down in the dock after his lawyer sought per­mis­sion for him to be seated on the grounds of ill health.

Jus­tice Nyako ad­journed till July 1 for cross-ex­am­i­na­tion of Adolije by the de­fence lawyers.

Be­fore the ad­journ­ment, de­fence lawyers, Ishaka Dikko (SAN), M. I Toga,abass Ajiya, Kuzaet Ma­gaji,and F. O Fagbemi, moved their clients’ bail ap­pli­ca­tion which was op­posed by the pros­e­cu­tion.

The judge also fixed July 1 for rul­ing.



Photo: State House

•L-R: Di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Nige­ria Cen­tre For Dis­ease Con­trol, Dr Chikwe Ihek­weazu; Min­is­ter of Health, Dr Osagie Ehinare; Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion and Chair­man of the Pres­i­den­tial Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha; and Pres­i­dent, Ma­jor Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari (retd.), dur­ing a meet­ing of the Pres­i­dent with the Pres­i­den­tial Task Force on COVID-19, at the Pres­i­den­tial Villa in Abuja… on Mon­day.

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