The absence of Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday stalled the trial of the Taraba State’s kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, otherwise known as Wadume, and his co-defendants.
Wadume and his codefendants are standing trial on charges, bordering on terrorism and kidnapping brought against them by the federal government.
Justice Nyako had last week adjourned the matter till July 7 for the continuation of trial, but when lawyers and the defendants arrived the court by 11 am, slated to commence the trial, they were informed of the newly scheduled date, July 13, for the hearing.
It would be recalled that Justice Nyako denied the defendants bail while delivering a ruling in their bail application because she, “saw no reason to grant them bail,” having giving their trial accelerated hearing.
Wadume and his co-defendants are standing trial on a 13-count amended criminal charge bordering on terrorism, kidnapping and collection of N106 million ransom, among others.
Other defendants are: Police Inspector, Aliyu Dadje, Auwalu Bala (aka omo razor); Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu); Bashir Wazlri (aka baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.
They pleaded not guilty to all the charges read to them and their lawyers accordingly moved their bail applications, which Justice Nyako declined to grant.
The judge however ordered that the defendants be moved from the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police to the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja.
She also ordered that the authorities of the Correctional Centre in Kuje allow the defendants access to a medical facility and their lawyers while in their custody.
Wadume was first arrested in Ibi, Taraba State, on August 6, 2019, by policemen from the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of the Police office.
He was arrested for a kidnap case in which he was said to have demanded N106 million as ransom.
The alleged kidnapper was being conveyed from Ibi to Jalingo, when some soldiers, led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe shot at them, killing three of the policemen to free Wadume from custody.
Wadume was later rearrested for interrogation before he was charged along with six others early in June 2020.
The soldiers who were initially charged along with Wadume had their names removed from the charge sheet as defendants by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which took over the prosecution of the matter from the police.
The first prosecution has so far called three witnesses in its efforts to prove its allegations against the defendants.