The Federal Government has dropped the names of 10 soldiers and one police officer named as accomplices in the kidnapping charges involving an alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin, Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume, and others.
The new charges under the prosecution of the Attorney General of the Federation shows that Wadume, has been arraigned at a federal high court in Abuja on charges of terrorism.
The charges have been reduced from 16 to 12 with only seven defendants as against the initial 20.
Wadume was charged alongside Aliyu Dadje (a police inspector); Auwalu Bala (aka omo razor); Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu); Bashir Wazlri (aka baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.
The soldiers, whose names were removed in the amended charges are, Captain Tijjani Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Markus Michael; L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
A policeman’s name, ASP Aondona Iorbee, as well as the name of one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball); was also struck off the charge.
Following the approval of the amendment by the judge, Justice Binta Nyako, the amended 13 counts were read to the remaining seven defendants, who pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Count one of the amended charge reads: “That you Alh. Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) (m) of lbi: LGA Taraba State between February and April 2019 at Takum and Ibi LGA Taraba State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court knowingly seized and detained one Usman Garba (aka Mayo) at his filling station in Takum, demanded and collected a ransom of one hundred and six million naira (N106,000,000.00) before he was released. You thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.”
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the 12-count charge bordering on “terrorism, kidnapping, continual to detain and collection of a ransom of N106m.”
The defense lawyers for the remaining defendants did not oppose the amendment on Monday.
T. Dangana, Wadume’s counsel, informed the court that he has a pending bail application for his client, and that the first defendant is critically ill and coughs out blood from his mouth.
Shuaibu Labaran, a senior counsel from the ministry of justice, noted that the bail application cannot stand because it is premised on the previous charge.
“The applications were premised on the earlier charge which to a reasonable extent is not applicable in the recent charge. But we will welcome any application and look at it in order to respond,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said no application would stop the hearing and prayed the court to grant accelerated trial in the case.
Binta Nyako, the judge, in her ruling ordered the remand of the suspects with the arresting officers, that is, the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the IGP.
She also ordered that the defendants should be granted access to their lawyers while in custody, as well as given access to proper medical care within the police facility, while a medical report on the health of the first defendant should be submitted back to her.
“Give me back a report on his condition of health. If need be, I will make an order sending him to a higher medical facility,” she said.
The case has been adjourned to June 22 for continuation.
It will be recalled that an attempt to arrest Wadume led to the killing of three police men and a civilian but he was rearrested by the police in August 2019 before the IGP filed a 16 count charge bothering on terrorism against him.
It was not clear why the AGF dropped the names of the soldiers from the list.