On July 22, Binta Nyako, the sitting judge at an Abuja Federal High Court, convicted Hamisu Bala (better known as Wadume) of two of the 13 charges against him and sentenced him to seven years in prison without an option of fine.
It took another two weeks before the fact of Wadume’s sentencing was made public, but that is not the only strange thing about him: soldiers once shielded him from prosecution.
Wadume is mostly regarded as a notorious kidnap kingpin who terrorised Taraba State and its environs. He was also a supplier of arms and ammunition to terrorists in the northeastern part of the country and cattle rustlers across the north.
Wadume was a well known suspect of kidnapping. The police once revealed how his gang kidnapped one Usman Garba in Takum, a community in Taraba State, on February 16, 2019. They got N106 million out of the N200 million ransom they demanded but still killed Garba.
In August 2019, officers of the Nigerian Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) arrested Wadume in the Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State. As the IRT officers conveyed Wadume to Abuja for interrogation, some assailants attacked them, and the attackers turned out to be soldiers manning a checkpoint in Takum. Three police officers and two civilians died in the assault, and Wadume was set free.
The soldiers said they had been alerted that the occupants of the vehicle conveying Wadume had abducted him from his house, but the police said they informed the military before embarking on the operation to capture Wadume.
The police recaptured Wadume in Latin Mai Allo Hotoro, Kano State, on August 19, 2019, and subsequently, Mohammed Adamu, the then Inspector-General of Police, took Wadume to court on 16 counts bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms on February 3, 2020. Seventeen soldiers and police officers were also charged alongside Wadume.
Investigations revealed that Captain Tijani Balarabe of the Nigerian Army had engaged in several phone conversations with Wadume prior to the deadly assault on the IRT convoy at the Takum checkpoint.
Call logs also showed phone call exchanges between Wadume, Balarabe and some police officers at Ibi Police Station. Wadume and Balarabe allegedly exchanged about 166 phone calls.
In a statement, Balarabe said Wadume once gave him fishes worth N50,000, and N200,000 to repair a patrol van which was having mechanical problems.
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