Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) has taken over the prosecution of the alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Mr. Bala Hamisu, popularly called Wadume and 19 others from the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu.
The IG had on February 3, 2020, dragged Wadume and his co-defendants among whom are two police officers and 10 soldiers before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on a 16-count criminal charge bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms.
When the case came up yesterday before Justice Binta Nyako, only six out of the 20 defendants, including Wadume, were present in court.
However, a lawyer in the office of the AGF, Mr. 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.
Magaji accordingly requested an adjournment to enable him work towards bringing all the defendants to court at the next adjournment.
“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”, he said.
Defence lawyers that were present in court did not oppose the request for adjournment.
Justice Nyako in a short ruling adjourned the matter to June 8, 2020. Nyako had ordered the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, to release 10 army officers for the ongoing criminal prosecution.
The 10 officers were charged alongside Wadume and others.
Justice Nyako made the order for the soldiers to be produced, after the prosecuting lawyer, Mr. Simon Lough, told the court that the army authorities ‘snubbed’ the letter by the police requesting the 10 defendants to be produced for arraignment.
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.
The prosecution added that, “Sections 89 and 159 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, empower my lord to compel the Chief of Army Staff to produce the 2nd to the 11th defendants for prosecution.
“On the basis of the provisions, we, therefore, urge my lord to issue an order to the Chief of Army Staff to produce the defendants for arraignment.”
The soldiers among the defendants are Captain Tijjani Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Markus Michael; L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
The other 10 defendants are: Wadume, ASP Aondona Iorbee; Inspector Aliyu Dadje; Auwalu Bala, aka Omo Razor; Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu); Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball); Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); Hafizu Bala (aka Maiwelder); and Rayyanu Abdul.
They were charged for the killing of three policemen and two civilians attached to the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team, who had gone to Ibi, Taraba State, to arrest the kidnap kingpin.
Five other police officers were injured in the attack by soldiers from Battalion 93, Takum, led by Capt Balarabe, on August 6, 2019.
The attack led to the escape of the kidnap kingpin who was later re-arrested at a village in Kano.