Adetayo and Solomon Odeniyi
FOUR months after the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, took over the case of a suspected Taraba kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume), and his co-defendants, and dropped charges against his accomplices in the military, authorities of the Nigerian Army have yet to court-martial them, The PUNCH reports.
The then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had originally filed 16 counts bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running against Wadume and the others.
They were accused of conspiring to commit felony, to wit: acts of terrorism by attacking and kidnapping one Usman Garba, aka Mayo, at his filling station in Takun, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013.
Some soldiers led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe were also named in the charges but Malami, on taking over the case from the police on June 3, removed the soldiers’ names from the charges.
The minister later explained that he withdrew charges against the soldiers to allow the Nigeria Army to court-martial them and conclude its internal process.
Months after charges against the soldiers were dropped, no news has been heard about their court-martial as indicated by Malami.
When contacted on the telephone on Monday to know the current status of the case against the soldiers, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, pleaded for more time to get the fact about the case and to get back to one of our correspondents.
Meanwhile, the trial of Wadume and his co-defendants has yet to continue almost four months after the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria called of its nationwide strike.
Wadume’s trial was one of the cases that suffered when courts were shut nationwide from April 6 when the judiciary workers began their action that lasted more than two months.
The union finally suspended the action on June 16.
Many weeks after the courts were re-opened, Wadume’s trial has yet to continue.
The PUNCH reports that terrorism charges were preferred against him and his co-defendants at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The last time the case came up was on March 9, 2021.
At that time, the trial judge, Binta Nyako, adjourned the matter till May 18 for defendants to open their defence or file no-case submission.
The strike action was still in force as of the adjourned date (May 18), making it impossible for the court to sit.
The Federal Government arraigned Wadume and his co-defendants on June 8, 2020 on amended 13 counts of terrorism, kidnapping and other related offences.
His co-defendants are Aliyu Dadje (a police Inspector), Auwalu Bala (aka Omo Razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu), Bashir Waziri (aka Baba Runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.
At the resumed hearing of the case on March 9, the prosecution led by Shuiabu Labaran had called its sixth and final witness, Ben Anthony, a police investigator.
Anthony had told the court that he was part of a team that recovered four AK-47 rifles from Wadume’s brother, Uba Bala, in Ibi, Taraba State.