The Federal High Court in Abuja ruled Friday that the prosecution’s evidence presented in the terrorism case involving alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, was cogent enough to warrant the defendants to give their answers.
The federal government had, in June 2020, arraigned Hamisu Bala, also known as Wadume, and other six defendants, on amended 13-counts of terrorism, kidnapping and other related offences.
Wadume and the five other defendants had, when the prosecution presented its sixth and last witness in March, opted to open their defence.
But one of the seven defendants in the case, Auwalu Bala, had filed a no-case submission, urging the court to discharge him on the grounds that the prosecution’s evidence did not link him to the alleged offences.
Ruling on Mr Auwalu’s no-case-submission on Friday, the trial judge, Binta Nyako, held that the prosecution had made a prima facie case against the defendant warranting his defence.
Apart from Wadume and Mr Auwalu, other defendants are: Aliyu Dadje (a police Inspector), Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) Bashir Waziri (aka Baba Runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.
Wadume was first arrested in Ibi, Taraba State, by members of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of Police on August 6, 2019 before soldiers led by Tijjani Balarabe, a captain, aided his escape from the custody of the policemen ferrying him to Abuja.
The Mr Balarabe-led troops attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, had allegedly shot at the policemen who were conveying Wadume to Abuja shortly after arresting the prime suspect in Taraba State on August 6, 2019.
The soldiers were said to have killed three policemen and two civilians while five others were wounded in the attack aimed at freeing Wadume from police custody.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, removed the names of the soldiers as defendants from the case after taking over the suit from the police in July 2020.
The prosecution, led by Shuiabu Labaran, called its sixth and final witness, Ben Anthony, a police investigator in March this year.
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.
At a previous sitting, the fourth prosecution witness in the case, a member of the IRT of the IGP office, Samuel Habila, said Wadume escaped with gunshot wounds to Kano after soldiers aided his escape from the police on August 6, 2019.
He said the kidnap suspect was rearrested during an operation at his uncle, Rayyanu Abdul’s place in Kano on August 20, 2019.
The office of the Inspector-General of Police 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 Mr Malami, on taking over the case from the police on June 3, removed the soldiers’ names from the charges.
The action of the AGF was widely condemned as taken against public interest.
Although he promised that the soldiers would be charged after an internal procedure, the promise has yet to be fulfilled.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999