As Predicted, Wadume is Back!

By Olusegun Adeniyi

Straight from Kuje Prison in Abuja, convicted gunrunner, Hamisu Bala (popularly known as ‘Wadume’) was received with a hero’s welcome to his hometown of Ibbi, Taraba State, on Sunday. He was reportedly driven round town in a long convoy of vehicles before visiting the palace of the traditional ruler, Alhaji Salihu Danbawuro. While many Nigerians were shocked about the development, with some expressing outrage, what I predicted in my August 2022 column, ‘Wadume and the Nigerian Tragedy’ has just come to pass. For those who may have missed the column, I recall it before concluding with a few lines.


The slap on the wrist given a notorious kidnap kingpin has exposed the underbelly of the criminal justice administration in Nigeria. It also underscores the seeming hopelessness of the national security situation. Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, according to reports, last month sentenced Hamisu Bala, popularly known as Wadume, to seven years imprisonment for unlawfully dealing in prohibited firearms and escaping from prison custody. Among the six others convicted with Wadume is Inspector Aliyu Dadje, station officer at the Ibi Divisional Police Headquarters in Taraba State at the time the crime was committed. Dadje bagged three years in jail for tampering with police records to conceal a crime. 

All the elements that have made our country unsafe today are present in this tragedy that has been treated so casually by the federal government. From kidnapping to criminal complicity by military/security agencies to inter-agency rivalry and the way life has become so cheap in Nigeria, this is one case that should have been used for the purpose of deterrence in our quest for peace and security. Sadly, not only has the case been cynically bungled, but we have also shown that lives of innocent people do not matter, and accountability counts for nothing. Since Wadume has already spent some years in detention, he can be freed as early as 2025. And perhaps then granted presidential pardon (the way we roll in Nigeria) to contest for senate in 2027 on the platform of whichever party is in power at the time! 

I cannot but feel for the families of the slain policemen for whom the state cannot secure real justice. What is more confounding is the secrecy that has shrouded this trial whose outcome we only got to know more than three weeks later. The judgement was said to have been handed down on 22nd July 2019, with a statement released only last Sunday. The report also stated that ten military officers earlier charged with the convicts have had their trial “separated for departmental reasons,” whatever that means. These soldiers are Captain Tijjani Balarabe; Staff Sgt David Isaiah; Sgt Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Marcus Michael; Lance Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; Staff Sgt Abdulahi Adamu and Private Ebele Emmanuel. While we can assume that these were the soldiers who killed the police team, we do not know what the exact charges are against them.   


Meanwhile, this tragic story began on 6th August 2019 when a special operational team sent from Abuja arrested Wadume in Taraba State, handcuffed him and were driving toward Jalingo when they came under heavy bombardment from soldiers. In the process, four persons were killed on the spot while several others were injured. Those killed were Inspector Mark Ediale and two sergeants – Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa and a civilian by name of Jibrin. The soldiers then freed the handcuffed suspect, according to a statement by then police spokesperson, Frank Mba, who provided public updates on the matter.


From all that transpired at the time, there was no dispute about the fact that Wadume was freed by the soldiers who killed the policemen. In his version of event, then Army spokesperson, Sagir Musa said that soldiers from 93 Battalion received a distress call that kidnappers had come to operate in their community, leading to the hot pursuit that culminated in the unfortunate killings. Musa, who accused police operatives of refusing to stop at the military checkpoint, described them as “suspected kidnappers who turned out to be an Intelligence Response Team…on a covert assignment from Abuja.” But he gave a convoluted account of how Wadume escaped unhurt from the hands of the military men.   

Miffed by the attempt to cover up the crime, the police immediately countered by raising pertinent posers: “How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers? If Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume is a ‘victim of kidnap’ as claimed, and properly rescued by soldiers, why was he not taken to the Army Base for documentation purposes and debriefing in line with the Standard Operating Procedure in the Nigerian Army?” Insisting that their officers were murdered by the soldiers who they accused of colluding with the kidnap suspect, the police asked, “Why were the Police Operatives shot at close range even after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation?”    

Indeed, the clear give-away in the video released by police after the killings was the question, ‘Where is their service pistol?’, asked by one of the shooters. It was a clear indication that the soldiers knew their victims were officers of the law. That a most wanted criminal suspect was set free in the process further confirmed the motive of the callous act that points to a clear link between officialdom and organised crime in our country. And to the extent that the insecurity that plagues our country today is the product of a justice administration that places criminals above the rest of society, it is no surprise that we have treated this unfortunate tragedy in a cavalier manner.   

Apparently embarrassed, President Muhammadu Buhari tasked then Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin to investigate the incident and report back to him. The police of course went in search of Wadume who was later captured in Kano on 20th August 2019. They subsequently released the video of his confessional statement that corroborated their allegation that the soldiers who killed their men were working in concert with kidnappers. “I am Hamisu Bala also known as Wadume. The police came to Ibi and arrested me. After arresting me, they were taking me to Abuja when soldiers went after them, opened fire and some policemen were killed. From there, the soldiers took me to their headquarters and cut off the handcuffs on my hands and I ran away. Since I ran away, I have been hiding until now that the police arrested me again,” Wadume said in the video.


Meanwhile, the joint presidential investigative panel headed by Rear Admiral T.I Olaiya with representatives from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), State Security Service (SSS) as well as the army, navy and police went mute. Although the panel was said to have presented a report to Olonisakin for onward transmission to the president, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) broom has swept the matter under the proverbial carpet. Beyond what we are reading about “separated cases”, I am not aware that anybody in the military has been held accountable for executing three senior police officers and a civilian while on duty: No punishment for bad behaviour, no justice for slain police officers, no lessons learnt. Case closed!


I concede that I do not know the charges filed against Wadume and accomplices at the federal high court by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. So, it is possible that Justice Nyako merely applied the law. But when you run a system where the punishment does not fit the crime and there is no accountability even for lives lost, it is the larger society that is in danger. We can see the evidence of that in all facets of our country today – which is why we should be concerned.    


The traditional ruler of Ibbi who received Wadume in his palace waxed philosophical about his returning subject. “We are hoping that he will not go back to criminality. He came to the palace and pledged his loyalty as a changed person. Even repented Boko Haram are allowed to reintegrate into the community, so we have to accept him and take proactive steps to secure our community,” Alhaji Garba said. “As someone who has a lot of followers, we believe that by re-integrating him, he will work with security agencies and stakeholders to ensure the peace of the community. Wadume was not a hardened criminal, but someone with dubious character. The issue of kidnapping was framed against him and even politics came in; that was why the court could not convict him on some of the charges that were preferred against him. There will be a lot of talks around his release and his reception in the town, but people do change.”

Like the monarch, I also believe in the power of redemption. I therefore wish Wadume well, especially since he has fulfilled the requirement of the law. But this tragic story is more about the character of the Nigerian state than about Wadume. Given how this sordid saga has played out, what the authorities are invariably telling the families of the slain policemen is that Nigeria is not worth dying for!

From Band ‘A’ to Banditry

From the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) cynically rechristened ‘Never Expect Power Always’ to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) which became ‘Problem Has Changed Name’, the power sector in Nigeria has almost defied solution. Today, Nigerians have lost count of the number of times the national grid has collapsed in recent years, leaving the authorities to supply their usual megawatts of excuses at every point. On 4th February, for the fourth time this year, the grid collapsed again, with the capacity dropping from 2,407 megawatts to zero megawatts! That pattern was repeated on 28 March across the country.

In a bizarre turn of event, the federal government responded last week not with a concrete plan to revamp the sector but with a tariff structure that is based on some discriminatory ‘Band A, B, C, D, E…’ statistics. For customers classified under ‘Band A’, said to be consuming a minimum of 20 hours per day, their tariff moved from ₦66 to ₦225 per kilowatt. At least that was what Nigerians were told. But what the Distributing Companies (DISCOs) did was simply to jerk up the tariff for most consumers in urban cities, including those who hardly receive up to 20 hours of electricity in a week!

Increasing tariff by as much as 230 percent at a time Nigerians are already feeling the pinch of other economic reform programmes of the current administration is bad judgment. Worse still, the electricity is not even readily available. That perhaps explains why the whole arrangement is anchored on rationing, based on how deep the pocket of a consumer is perceived to be, rather than on how to ensure an uninterrupted power supply to the entire country. Unfortunately, even for many of these ‘Band A’ consumers, the bills are based on guesswork since they still haven’t been availed something as basic as prepaid metres. “On metering, we still have about 15 to 20 per cent of the Band A customers that are not metered and that has to be a priority of the DisCos,” the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) NERC Vice Chairman, Musiliu Oseni, confessed on Monday.

I concede that there are serious systemic issues across the power value chain that need to be addressed. And a cost-reflective tariff is key. But asking for more money from consumers cannot be the starting point. While the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu is correct on “how conscious the power consumers are about electricity consumption” in other countries as against the evident waste of this scarce resource in Nigeria, he overstated his case by declaring that “Some people will be going to work in the morning, a freezer that you left on for days…they will still leave it to be consuming power just because we are not paying enough.”

For the information of Adelabu, turning a refrigerator off and on can have negative effects on the appliance and its contents, according to experts. “Refrigerators are designed to maintain a consistent and safe temperature for storing perishable foods,” according to an Indian engineer, Preeti Prabah, hence what Adelabu suggests can lead to temperature fluctuations and cause damage to both what is being stored and the refrigerator itself. Besides, turning a refrigerator on and off doesn’t conserve energy since it takes more electricity to bring it back up to its ambient temperature, experts have long concluded. Meanwhile, “the increase in temperature during the time the fridge is off can accelerate the growth of bacteria and spoilage of perishable foods.”

The power sector is capital intensive, so I understand all the arguments about the funding requirements on which Adelabu is obsessed. I am also not a fan of subsidy in Nigeria because I have seen its abuse in critical sectors just as I subscribe to the idea that people must pay market price for the electricity they consume. But there is a serious absence of transparency and accountability in the management of the power sector. Fortunately for the government, the timing is auspicious for serious reforms. With all our battery-powered inverters, solar panels and generators, many Nigerians have come to terms with the fact that we are better off (economically and environmentally) with a public power system that works for all. But hiking tariffs when what you supply mostly is darkness under the guise of some imaginary ‘Band A’, as one X (formerly Twitter) user wrote, is financial Banditry!  

Oluwatosin @ 50

From trying to help 14 children roaming the streets of Asokoro in December 2018, my wife has since suspended her professional career and business for the cause of providing functional education to 137 children and young adults, 20 of whom are now on full scholarship at three Federal Government Colleges within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). And we are talking about children who had never been to school and could communicate only in Hausa six years ago. With the assistance of some hand-lifters, the remarkable story of the Not Forgotten Initiative (NFI) School which I once shared briefly (Amatala and Other ‘Unforgotten’ Children  – THISDAYLIVE) is a testament to the sacrifice and resourcefulness of Mrs Oluwatosin Adeniyi, who turns 50 tomorrow. On a personal note, she has been for me and our three children (Toluwani, Ifeoluwa and Oluwakorede) a blessing beyond measure. I can only wish her happy birthday, long life and good health. With all my love!

• You can follow me on my X (formerly Twitter) handle, @Olusegunverdict and on   

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