A family who paid N5 million ransom to kidnappers to secure the release of their matriarch in Jigawa State has raised concerns over the delay in prosecuting six suspects arrested for the crime.
The first son and breadwinner of the family, Abdullahi Muhammad, said his mother was abducted in her home in June and the police arrested six of the suspected kidnappers shortly after. But they are yet to be arraigned, raising fears that some politicians in the state allegedly connected to the suspects had intervened to scuttle the prosecution.
A police internal memo seen by PREMIUM TIMES showed that the kidnappers negotiated the N5million ransom through GSM No. 09054170931 with Mr Muhammad to secure the release of his mother, Hajiya Libabatu.
The investigation, according to the memo JSX No. SARS/21/2019, was concluded and transmitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution on July 18 for the trial of the suspects.
The police said the ransom was paid through one Aliyu Muhammad, a driver to the complainant who delivered the money to the kidnappers in a bush along the Gumel-Malammadori highway in Jigawa State.
The police described the suspect that collected the ransom as a Fulani man dressed in an army camouflage uniform.
The police tracked down the owner of the phone number used for the negotiations and identified him as Ahmed Isa, a teacher attached to Mallamadori Local Education Authority.
Following his arrest, Mr Isa allegedly made a confessional statement on how they kidnapped the elderly woman.
He identified members of the gang as having different addresses in Mallamadori, Kaugama, and Maigatari local government areas of Jigawa State.
The police also stated how Mr Isa revealed to them how he got N500,000 as his share of the five million ransom. However, the police said in the report that the money was not found.
In the memo, the police recommended to the state government to prosecute the suspects for criminal conspiracy, house trespass, armed robbery and kidnapping which they said can be established against Ahmed Isa, Auwalu Usman, Munkaila Ahmed, Babangida Musa, Usman Hassan, Ahmed Hassan.
The other suspects who are now at large include Garba Danfulani, Musa Kabiru, Adamu Ya’u and Bakoji Yusuf. The police said the suspects can also be jointly charged for conspiracy, contrary to sections 96,343,296 and 271 of the penal code law.
Why we’re yet to prosecute suspects – DPP
The office of the Director of Public Prosecution, just like the office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, is empowered by section 211 of Nigeria’s Constitution to advise and prosecute any criminal case in the state.
The Director of Public Prosecution, Jigawa State Ministry of Justice, Musa Imam, attributed the delay in prosecuting the suspects to delay in police investigation and long vacation embarked on by judges.
He said the judges resumed from vacation just last week.
Mr Imam said, as a tradition, no suspects would be charged to court during the vacation period.
It was alleged that some highly placed politicians in the state were trying through the office of the DPP to free the suspects believed to be their foot soldiers.
However, Mr Imam debunked the rumour. He said his office received the voluminous documents of the police investigation on September 18, and more time is needed to digest the content before filing the advice as required by the law.
“No matter what interest someone has in the case, due process has to be followed. Kidnapping is a capital offence and we need time to study the police report before advising on the charges,” the director said.
“By next week, hopefully, we would conclude all the necessaries and request the original case diary from the police for upward prosecution,” Mr Imam said.