A member of the Intelligence Response Unit of the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, Inspector Samuel Abila, on Monday narrated to the Federal High Court in Abuja how a suspected kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, aka Wadume, was re-arrested two weeks after soldiers freed him from police custody in Taraba State on August 6, 2019.
Abila, testifying as the fourth prosecution witness in the kidnap case, said the troops led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe, shot at the vehicle of the policemen taking Wadume from Ibi, Taraba State, to Abuja..
The soldiers attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, allegedly killed three policemen and two civilians, while five others were wounded in the attack.
Abila said on Monday that Wadume escaped with gunshot wounds to Kano State.
He said the kidnap suspect was rearrested at his uncle, Rayyanu Abdul’s place in Kano on August 20, 2019.
The IG, Adamu Mohammed, had in February charged Wadume and others, including the 10 soldiers with various offences bordering on murder, kidnap and gun running, among others.
But the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), removed the names of the soldiers as defendants within days of taking over the case from the police.
Wadume and six others are now being prosecuted on 13 counts of kidnapping, detention of kidnap victim Usman Garba, and collection of ransom of N106m from the victim before releasing him.
Apart from Wadume, the rest of the defendants are Inspector Aliyu Dadje, who was a station officer at police headquarters in Ibi; Auwalu Bala, aka Omo Razor, Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu); Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba Runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); and Rayyanu Abdul.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mrs Yetunde Adeola-Cole, on Monday, Abila said Wadume was tracked down to Kano after investigation led the police to the suspect’s brother, Auwalu Bala, who had arrived in Abuja from Lagos.
The fourth prosecution witness said he was part of the police team that investigated the soldiers’ attack on the IRT members, Wadume’s escape from police custody and the carting away of the policemen’s arms on August 6, 2019.”
He said, “Investigation led to 3rd defendant (Auwalu Bala) who was based in Lagos but came to Abuja to assist his brother, Hamisu Bala.
“He was interviewed and he told us that Hamisu Bala was his younger brother.
“I asked him about the whereabouts of his brother, Hamisu Bala. He told me that his uncle, Rayyanu Abdul (7th defendant) based in Kano, knew Hamisu Bala’s whereabouts. So we tracked Rayyanu to Kano.
“We went to Kano where we arrested Rayyanu. When we interviewed Rayyanu, he took us to his house where we arrested Hamisu Bala. That was on August 20, 2019.”
According to Abila, Rayyanu told the investigators that “Hamisu Bala complained that he had wounds on his legs.”
The witness said, “He (Rayyanu) then called a doctor who treated him at home.
“He told the doctor that the wounds were bullet wounds. And he never reported to anybody.”
He said while in Kano, Wadume contacted his Lagos-based brother, Auwalu Bala, on the telephone, asking him to contact another brother, Uba Bala, to go to his (Wadume’s) house in Ibi to remove six AK-47 rifles from there for safekeeping elsewhere.
Abila said Auwalu added that when they needed money to organise “special prayers concerning the case involving Hamisu Bala” they contacted Wadume in Kano and he said two of the six rifles be sold to raise the money.
The witness said members of the IRT went to Ibi “where Uba Bala was arrested and four AK-47 rifles were found.”
On the role of Inspector Dadje, the Station Officer at the Ibi Police Station at the time of the incident, Abila said, “He registered the arrival of the police officers from Abuja and confirmed that he tore the page of the register in which he registered the Abuja policemen’s arrival.”
Five rifles allegedly retrieved from the suspects were tendered and admitted as exhibits without objection from the defence lawyers in court on Monday.
But all the defence lawyers, comprising Ishaku Dikko (SAN), for Wadume, M.I Tona (for the 2nd defendant), Y.D Dangana (for the 3rd defendant), Amanzi Amanzi (for the 4th defendant), Abass Hajia (for the 5th defendant), Yakubu Philemon (for the 6th defendant) and Lukmon Fagbemi (for the 7th defendant), all objected to the admissibility of the statements made to the police by their clients.
They argued that their clients spoke to the policemen in Hausa, but the statements were written down in English by the policemen.
They argued that failure of the prosecution to accompany the English version of the statements with the Hausa version, in which they spoke, was a violation of the rules of admissibility in the Evidence Act.
In addition to challenging the legal admissibility of the statement, counsel for the 2nd defendant (Inspector Dadje) and the lawyer for the 6th defendant (Zubairu Abdulllahi), said they did not make their statements voluntarily.
Justice Binta Nyako immediately ordered a trial-within-trial to ascertain the voluntariness of the statements of the two defendants.
During the trial-within-trial, the two defendants testified how the statements were extracted from them by torture and inducement.
But Abila, who also testified for the prosecution in the trial within trial, denied the allegations.
Justice Nyako adjourned till Wednesday.
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