WE are shocked and horrified that murderous Taraba kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala(alias Wadume), was given only a seven-year jail term by Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Abuja Federal High Court.
Given the suspicious and seemingly conspiratorial circumstances of Wadume’s case, it is our firm view that justice has been miscarried, which is why we call for the complete retrial of this celebrated case.
Wadume was renowned throughout Taraba State and beyond as a notorious billionaire kidnapper who sometimes allegedly killed his victims after collecting ransoms. He reportedly used the proceeds of his heinous crimes to finance armed herdsmen militias, including rogue soldiers who protected them.
Former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in August 2019, dispatched a crack team of the Intelligence Response Team, IRT, to arrest Wadume. They successfully completed their assignment but were brutally murdered at a checkpoint on the Ibi-Wukari road by some soldiers of the 93 Battalion led by Captain Tijani Balarabe who freed the kidnapper. The heroic police officers were Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeant Usman Azumi and Sergeant Dahiru Musa. Two other civilians with them were also killed.
Following an outrage, the IGP, Adamu, arraigned Wadume and all his military and civilian accomplices before Justice Nyako on a 13-count charge, including terrorism and murder. Shockingly, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, took over the case and withdrew the names of the soldiers from the charge sheet, ostensibly to allow them to undergo a court martial.
Till date, no such process has taken place, and Captain Balarabe and his murderous accomplices walk free. On July 22, 2022, Nyako convicted Wadume of only two counts of escaping from lawful custody and dealing in prohibited arms.
When AGF Malami took over the case, the expectation was that he would ensure justice, not only for the valiant police officers slain in cold blood in the line of duty, but also for the unknown number of people Wadume killed and extorted after kidnapping them. Our question for Malami is: where is the justice in letting the soldiers off the hook while giving Wadume a slap on the wrist?
What about the investigative panel set up by former Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin, as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari? The panel indicted the Police and Army over the incident. What is the purpose of this if not to ensure that the law takes its maximum course? Why have Balarabe and his accomplices not been court-martialled to enable them face the law?
We see a high-level conspiracy to derail the course of justice. We demand justice for the slain policemen and civilians. Wadume and his accomplices must be retried, and Captain Balarabe arraigned.
If they escape justice under the Buhari regime, the next government must serve justice.