Judge’s absence stalls trial of Taraba kidnap kingpin, Wadume
• As court slates July 1 to commence trial
The trial of the Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu, popularly called Wadume and his codefendants, was on Monday, stalled following the absence of the trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako.
Although Wadume and his six co-defendants were produced in court on Monday, the scheduled trial could not proceed.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who took over the case from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammad Adamu, had in an amended charge, dropped the names of ten soldiers, including Captain Tijani Balaraba who were initially charged for the alleged crime.
Accordingly, the soldiers were not present in court on Monday when the case came up.
The withdrawal of the soldiers from the charge had attracted wide condemnations from the public including members of the families of the victims killed by the soldiers who called for their arrest and prosecution.
The absence of the Judge forced an adjournment of the case to July 1, 2020.
The ten soldiers attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, allegedly helped Wadume to escape from the policemen taking him to Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, after he was arrested in Ibi, a part of the state, on August 6, 2019.
The troops led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe allegedly killed three policemen and two civilians, while five other police officers were injured, during the soldiers’ attack.
Those killed in the attack included Inspector Mark Ediale, 36, Sgt. Dahiru Musa, 40, Owolabi Babajide, 24, Farouk Bashir, 30, and Usman Danazumi, 44.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in February this year, slammed a 16-count charge, bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running against Wadume, eight alleged civilian accomplices, two police officers and the ten soldiers who allegedly killed the policemen who took Wadume in custody.
Among the 20 defendants charged by the IGP, the ten soldiers including Captain Balarabe were named as the 2nd to the 11th defendants.
But the AGF, on June 8, 2020, citing “bureaucracy” involved in bringing the soldiers to court, removed their names from the charges within days of his taking over the case from the police.
The amendment of the charges by the AGF saw the removal of the names of alleged ten accomplice soldiers in the 13-count amended charge.