DHQ Orders Taraba Battalion To Produce Wadume + More Details About Kidnap Kingpin, Hamisu Bala

The Defense Headquarters has reacted to the ongoing face off between the police and the military, by ordering the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Takum, Taraba State, to produce the alleged kidnapper Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, who is currently on the run. The military says producing Haminsu would be an evidence that its soldiers are not culpable in his escape after three policemen and a civilian were killed at a checkpoint in Ibi, last Tuesday.

A top military source at the DHQ revealed that the battalion had been issued a directive to produce the runaway kidnapper. “The panel may not commence serious activities until after the Eid-el Kabir break. The Army had directed the battalion in Takum to produce the runaway kidnapper as evidence that its soldiers are not culpable. The military will not hesitate to dismiss and court-martial any soldier found to be involved in shady business than allow the reputation of the Army to be toyed with.”

Also, the Nigerian Army headquarters confirmed that the captain who ordered the killing of the policemen and the civilian had being cross-examined at the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, in Taraba State, while the arrested soldiers involved in the killings have being moved to Abuja on Tuesday. Even though the DHQ panel had yet to visit Taraba State as at Monday 12th August, but the IGP investigative team had been in Taraba.

The acting Director, Defense Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, had said the panel was in “compliance with the directive issued by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the joint committee has commenced work immediately.”

President Muhammadu Buhari has intervened in the situation, with a direct order to the Defense headquarters to set up the panel to probe into the tragedy. And the DHQ had established a seven-man joint investigation panel, headed by Rear Admiral Ibikunle Olaiya, which has officers drawn from the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, DSS and the DIA.

“From the video which we perused during the visit to Ibi, which I believe you also saw on the social media, one of the police officers was trying to identify himself with his ID card that they were police officers, yet they went ahead and shot at him. It’s really unfortunate, we have to calm our boys or else we would have had another incident this time police shooting soldiers while we were in Ibi. Five of those killed have been taken to Abuja too for autopsy,” he said.

There were sketchy details regarding if the captain was also taken to Abuja. And the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP. David Misal, declined comments on the issue, “All the information you need now is with the Force PRO in Abuja, so there is little I can tell you,” he said.

Reports from Ibi says that two military checkpoints along the Ibi-Wukari Road had been dismantled, while the Police intelligence team who are trailing the fleeing kidnap kingpin have traced his location to Lafia, Nasarawa State, where he allegedly withdrew money from an ATM.

WHO IS HAMISU BALA WADUME?

The suspected Taraba kidnap kingpin is a petty fish trader, painter, politician, polygamist with many children and a philanthropist. He got noticed because of his generosity and extravagant spending, because before then, he was almost unknown until two years ago.

His name is Hamisu Bala, nicknamed “Why Do You Mean?”, which many mistake for “Wadume.” He is a Hausa man whose great grandfather migrated from Katsina state. He was born and brought up in Ibi local government area of Taraba State. His late father, Bala, was Hausa, while his mother was Tiv, from Ukum local government area of Benue state. He holds a secondary school certificate, having attended the Government Secondary School (GSS) Ibi. He was said to have made poor grades in school.

”He completed secondary school in 2004 and did not proceed to any tertiary institution. Bala, 35, suddenly became so rich that many believe he made it through ‘ritual’. His posh residence in Ibi was built only last year. Before then, he was a petty trader who specialized in buying and selling fish in Ibi. He was not even a big trader; he could only afford to buy only one or most of the time, half a basket of fish to sell at retail prices,” a source, who knows him well, said.

Bala was a painter who had partnership with his brother. During the 2019 polls, he aspired to become a House of Assembly member, representing Ibi Constituency, on the platform of the Young Democratic Party (YDP). But, he did not make it. After making money Bala has been living the life of a philanthropist. In the last two years, he reportedly built houses for his friends and donated hundreds of motorcycles and cars to young men and women. He is also believed to be generous to security agents.

”Sometimes Bala would go to tea sellers and settles the bills of tea drinkers. Then, give N10,000 each to the people,” a source in Ibi said.

Two of his wives have been under house arrest since last weeks’ incident, while the other two wives are on pilgrimage, in Mecca. So, how did police know Bala was a big-time kidnapper to the extent of apprehending him? One of Bala’s accomplices, known as Kwarba, was apprehended by the police in Jalingo, over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a Permanent Secretary. During interrogation, Kwarba revealed that Bala was their leader. The police then allowed Kwarba to be communicating with Bala on the phone for over three days, as though he was not in detention. Based on their communication, the police were able to gather useful information. It was during one of their conversations on the phone that Bala disclosed that he was coming to Ibi for Eid el Kabir celebration. On arrival in Ibi, Bala phoned Kwarba to inform him.

Operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) embarked on the journey. They got to the police headquarters in Jalingo, before proceeding to Ibi, in a white Toyota Hummer Bus marked, LAGOS: MUS-564EU.

They wore in mufti and carried Kwarba along so that he could identify Bala. They met Bala at a coffee joint, at the junction to Government Lodge. Kwarba identified him. To pull the wool over the kidnapper’s eyes, the policemen in disguise went out and told him they brought a bus for sale. Bala sought to know the cost of the vehicle so that he could buy it, but the policemen suggested they would step aside for bargaining. It was when he (Bala) got into the bus that the policemen told him they were there to arrest him, after handcuffing and chaining his legs. After arresting the suspect, the operatives drove into Ibi town briefly and began to drive carefully out of the town.

But while passing the coffee joint, (where Bala was picked) the suspected kidnapper forced his head out of the vehicle and shouted: “I have been kidnapped by these people.” Soon, the news spread and some of Bala’s ‘boys’ began to chase the vehicle on motorbikes. The operatives had passed the first and second check points, with only one remaining to pass. Bala’s accomplices then called the military checkpoint where the bus was ambushed. They opened fire on the bus conveying the operatives and suspected kidnapper. The bus somersaulted into the bush, following the barrage of gun fire, as the driver lost control of the wheel. A source revealed that, after the killing of the three policemen and the civilian, Bala, who was handcuffed and chained in the legs, crawled and took refuge in the home of an old Jukun woman. The following day, he called his army captain friend who came with three of his ‘boys’ in a red Toyota Corolla. Our source alleged that the army captain cut the chains on the suspected kidnapper.

“It was around 7:30 am that he (Bala) was taken back to his home in Ibi in the red car,” an eyewitness said. On getting back to Ibi, his neighbours and Ibi residents went into jubilation. It was gathered that while the jubilation was on, Bala sneaked out, he has not been seen since then.

First Reported by The Nation

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