Alleged Taraba kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) and his co-defendants will, on May 8, open their defence in the terrorism charges preferred against them at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Federal Government arraigned Wadume and his co-defendants on June 8, 2020 on amended 13 counts of terrorism, kidnapping and other related offences.
The others 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.
Last prosecution witness closes testimony
At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, the prosecution, led by Shuiabu Labaran, called its sixth and final witness, Ben Anthony, a police investigator.
Mr Anthony , who was led in evidence by Yetunde Cole, a lawyer in the prosecution team, told the court that he was part of a team that recovered four AK-47 rifles from Wadume’s brother Uba Bala at Ibi in Taraba.
He said, “While at Ibi (Taraba State) we got information that Wadume called his brother Uba and asked him to remove the guns from where he kept them.
“We left Ibi for Uba’s house and immediately he sighted us at the front of his house, he attempted to run but we followed him and arrested him.
“We then asked him where the guns were and he took us to an uncompleted building and showed us where he kept the guns.
“He gave us a hoe and cutlass to dig the place and I dug it myself and brought out a sack that contained four AK-47 rifles,” Mr Anthony told the court.
Under cross examination, Mr Anthony said the guns were released by the court to the police for safe keeping.
He also told the court that he did not have evidence of the call Wadume made to his brother, Uba, asking him to remove the guns from where he kept them.
At this point, Mr Labaran informed the court that the prosecution had closed its case as Mr Anthony was its last witness.
Counsel for Wadume, Dikko Ishaku, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, along with other defence lawyers, asked for a date to open their clients’ defence.
Y. Dangana, counsel for the third defendant, however, told the court that his client would not be opening his defence but would rather file a no-case submission.
The trial judge, Binta Nyako, told all defendants who intended to file no case submission to do so within 21 days.
Ms Nyako adjourned the matter till May 18 for defendants to open their defence or file no-case submission.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had originally filed 16 counts of 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 Takum, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013.”
They were also accused of possessing six AK-47 rifles and dealing in prohibited firearms contrary to Section 27 (1)(a)(I) and (1)(b)(iii) of the Firearms Act 2004.
Some soldiers led by Tijjani Balarabe, a captain, were also named in the charges filed by the police.
But the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF) Abubakar Malami, on taking over the case from the police on June 3, removed the soldiers’ names from the charges.
Wadume was first arrested in Ibi, Taraba State, by members of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the IGP office on August 6, 2019 but was said to have been freed from police custody by the Balarabe-led troops.
Police officers who appeared as witnesses in the case said the troops attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, shot at the policemen conveying the prime suspect to Abuja shortly after he was arrested in Ibi, Taraba State on August 6, 2019.
The police said three of its men and two civilians were killed while five others were wounded in the attack by the soldiers.
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