Alex Enumah in Abuja
The trial of the alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Mr. Bala Hamisu, popularly called Wadume before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, was yesterday stalled following the absence of the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako.
The trial scheduled for June 22 could not go on despite the presence of the defendants in court.
Wadume alongside six other co-defendants are standing trial on a 13-count amended criminal charge bordering on terrorism, kidnapping, and collection of a ransom of N106million, among others.
Justice Nyako had on June 8, 2020 adjourned to yesterday for commencement of trial shortly after the defendants were arraigned after several failed efforts.
Wadume was arrested by the police in August last year over acts relating to kidnapping.
His arrest earlier led to the killing of three policemen and a civilian in Taraba State with some military officers accused of aiding him.
However, attempts by the police to arraign the defendants since February this year was not successful until the AGF took over prosecution.
The difficulty was blamed on alleged refusal of the military authorities to release other defendants who are military personnel in the 16-count criminal charge.
The AGF reduced the charge from 16 to 13 and also dropped the names of 10 soldiers originally charged with Wadume and others in the amended charge.
The 10 soldiers attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, allegedly helped Wadume to escape from the policemen taking him to Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, after he was arrested in Ibi, a part of the state, on August 6, 2019.
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.
Those killed in the attack included Inspector Mark Ediale, 36, Sgt. Dahiru Musa, 40, Owolabi Babajide, 24, Farouk Bashir, 30, and Usman Danazumi, 44.
However, the AGF in a statement had dismissed claim that the names of the,10 soldiers were dropped in the Wadume’s case.
He explained that what his office did was to severe the charges in view of the unavailability of the soldiers who in their own case needed to be released by the military authorities in view of the fact that they were perhaps undergoing military processes before their release.
Those arraigned alongside Wadume include; ( a police inspector), Aliyu Dadje, Auwalu bala (aka omo razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) Bashir Wazlri (aka baba runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.
They pleaded not guilty to all the charges read to them following wish Wadume’s lawyer, Mr T. Dangana, informed the court that he had a pending bail application for his client. He told the court that the 1st defendant is critically ill and coughs out blood from his mouth.
But prosecution lawyer, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, objected on the grounds that the bail application cannot stand because it is premised on the previous charge.
In a short ruling, trial judge Justice Binta Nyako, however ordered that the defendants be remanded with the arresting officers, that is the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT).