By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE special investigative panel set up by the Federal Government to probe the circumstances that led to the death of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, on December 18, 2018, ruled out politics from the killing.
The committee, led by Major General Bamidele Shafa, while parading the 15 suspects arrested in connection with the death of the four-star General, insisted that there was no political undertone in the murder.
It said its finding revealed that it was a case of armed robbery, as the suspects only went for money and other material things in the vehicle driven by the late Badeh, after his death.
Badeh, who has since been buried by the military authorities, was shot on the fateful day by the suspected assailants near Keffi, while returning from his farm, said to be located at Gitata village, in Panda Development Area of Nasarawa State.
Reading a prepared text before newsmen at the event, which had representatives of the Military, Police, Department of State Services and Defence Intelligence Agency, leader of the panel, Major General Bamidele Shafa, said: ”After a thorough and exhaustive investigation, the panel made the following findings:
“That the attack and killing of Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh on December 18, 2018, was criminal and does not have any political undertone.
“Twenty persons were involved in the crime, out of which 15 have been arrested. It is expected that the remaining suspects will be arrested in due course.
“The 15 suspects in custody confessed to their direct involvement in the crime.
“The suspects employed automatic weapons and locally-made guns in the attack and killing of Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh. This was buttressed by the result of the autopsy examination and weapons recovered from the residences of the suspects.
“Aliyu Usman, aka Ciroma, 35, is a major suspect and the ringleader of the notorious gang. He was arrested in Kowo Panda Development Area of Nasarawa State.
“He confessed to how he was contracted by one Alhaji Maube Gaini living in Kare village. He played the role of leading the attack by recruiting six other gang members to attack and rob a wealthy man who owns a farm within Panda area.
“The wealthy man later turned out to be Air Chief Marshal Baden(retd).
“He invited other gang members for the attack and supplied five AK-47 rifles and a single-barrelled gun. He also admitted that he carted away a black bag containing unspecified amount of money from the deceased’s vehicle, which he handed over to Abdullahi Ibrahim, aka Baba, who also admitted to receiving the bag in question.
“In order to ensure a thorough and well-coordinated investigation, the CD, General Gabriel Olonisakin, constituted a joint investigation panel under the coordinator of the Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA, to take over the investigation.
“The panel comprised 27 members, including an attorney, drawn from Defence Headquarters, Army Headquarters, Naval Headquarters, Headquarters Nigerian Air Force, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police and Department of State Service.
“The panel was assisted by 21 investigators and operatives also drawn from the services and agencies.”
He gan insight into the panel’s activities thus:”In carrying out its tasks, the panel was guided amongst others by the following terms of reference:”Ascertain the circumstances leading to the attack and death of Air Chief Marshal AS Badeh; identify and apprehend the persons involved in the attack and killing of the former CDS.
“Recover properties connected to the case; Make appropriate findings and recommendations as necessary; Guided by the terms of reference, the panel proceeded with the investigation activities and subsequently; Accepted into custody 20 suspects earlier arrested by the services and agencies;”Accepted into custody all items/properties recovered in relation to the case by the services and agencies;”Obtained cautionary statements from the 20 suspects and cross examined them accordingly and categorized the suspects into key suspects, circumstantial suspects and accomplices. All suspects not directly linked to the case have since been released on the instruction of the convening authority.”
He said the probe panel interviewed 36 withnesses,visited the scene of the incident, searched suspects’ home where one AK 47 rifle, one Dane gun and other dangerous items were recovered, conducted ballistic examination of associated fire arms, verified associated bank account and conducted autopsy examination on the deceased, respectively.
We mistook Badeh for an ordinary rich man, suspected killers’ ring leader
Meanwhile, in a briefing interview with journalists, shortly after the parade, the suspected ring leader of Badeh’s killers, Aliyu Usman, alias Ciroma, while confessing to the crime, said they did not Badeh was an high profile retired military leader, explaining that they had mistaken him for an ordinary rich man.
He said:”There was one Friday when we came to Gitata market. I was the one who gave the job to the gang. I was a taxi driver. So, one day I was driving my car into one village, Panda, in Nasarawa State. Then one Alhaji Maube Gani told me that there was one wealthy man who owned a farm in that area and that we could make money from him. I told him I never attacked any person in my life, but he said I should not worry.
“Then later on, I carried my car on my usual business and then, the Alhaji called me that the man had come to his farm as usual and we could come to attack him. So, I called the other members together and we met the Alhaji in the Gitata area.
“At that time of the operation, I did not know; none of us knew that the man was a military officer. There were seven of us who participated in the operation.
“We just entered the road, shot him and took away his friend.”