The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has finally arraigned the alleged Taraba state kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala, also known as Wadume and six others before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Wadume and his codefendants were arraigned on Monday on an amended13-count charge, bordering on terrorism, kidnapping and dealing with prohibited arms.
The Taraba kidnap kingpin and his codefendants, numbering 19, were to be arraigned by the Police last week when a lawyer from the office of the AGF, Shuaibu Labaran announced the taking over of matter by the AGF, pursuant to his power under Section 174(2) of the Constitution.
Labaran asked the court for a short adjournment to enable him to put things in order and liaise with the arresting and investigating agencies to ensure that all the defendants are brought to court.
When the matter came up yesterday, it was discovered that the names of ten soldiers and a policeman, in the earlier charge sheet were removed from the amended 13-count charge.
The development, which announced by the prosecuting counsel, saw the number of defendants reduced from 19 to seven and the number of counts also dropped from 16 to 13.
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; and Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
A policeman’s name, ASP Aondona Lorbee, as well as the name of one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball); was also struck off the charge.
The defence lawyers did not oppose the amendment, which was read to the defendants, to which they all pleaded not guilty to.
The remaining defendants arraigned were Inspector Aliyu Dadje, who was a station officer at police headquarters in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State, Wadume, Auwalu Bala, (aka Omo Razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu); Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); Hafizu Bala (aka Maiwelder); and Rayyanu Abdul.
Following the “Not guilty plea” by the defendants, the trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako adjourned the matter till June 22, 2020, for trial and possibly the hearing of the defendants’ bail applications and also ordered that the defendants remain in the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Abuja.
Wadume and his codefendants, were in one of the counts, alleged to have, “Between February and April 2019 in Takum Taraba State, while acting in concert and armed with guns and other offensive weapons attacked and kidnapped one Usman Garba at his filling station in Takum and demanded and collected a ransom of N106.3 million before he was released and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(1) of Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013.
The defendants were, in another count, 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
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