Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Wednesday took over the prosecution of alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin Bala Hamisu, commonly called ‘Wadume’ and 19 others from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
The IGP had on February 3rd, slammed 16 counts of terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running against the 20 defendants, among whom are two police officers and 10 soldiers.
When the case came up before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday, only six of the 20 defendants, including Wadume, were present in court.
Meanwhile, a counsel from the office of the AGF, Labaran Magaji, appearing for the prosecution, informed the court that the AGF had taken over the case and received the case file from the police on Tuesday.
He accordingly requested an adjournment to enable him to make moves for the production of all the defendants in court.
‘The AGF office applied to take over the prosecution of the criminal charge. We were handed over the file yesterday. The case has about 20 defendants, but only six defendants are present in court,’ Magaji said.
‘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.’
Defence lawyers that were present in court did not oppose the request for adjournment.
The judge adjourned the matter till 10.30 am on June 8th.
Justice Nyako had ordered the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to release 10 army officers for an ongoing criminal prosecution.
The 10 officers have been charged alongside the suspected kidnap kingpin Wadume.
Justice Nyako made the order for the soldiers to be produced, after the prosecuting lawyer, Simon Lough, told the court that the army authorities ‘snubbed’ the letter by the police requesting the 10 defendants to be produced for arraignment.
Mr Lough is the attorney prosecuting the 20 defendants on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police.
He had told the court that the police authorities had written the Chief of Army Staff asking for the soldiers since January, 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.
The Inspector-General of Police had slammed a 16-count charge bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and gun-running against the Taraba kidnap kingpin Wadume, Captain Tijjani Balarabe and 18 others.
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 suspected kidnap ringleader.
Five other police officers were injured in the attack by soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, led by Capt Balarabe, on August 6, 2019.
The attack led to the escape of Wadume who was later re-arrested at a village in Kano.
The criminal charge dated February 3rd, coming six months after the incident, was filed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Simon Lough, Anthony Egwu, and Peter Amadi, all of the Legal/Prosecution Section, Force Headquarters, Abuja.