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Indicted officers absent as Wadume, six others arraigned in Taraba

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The Federal Government has arraigned Bala Hamisu (aka Wadume), the alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, and six others on 13 counts bordering on terrorism.

When the matter was called yesterday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Shuiabu Labaran, prayed the court to have the charge read to the defendants.

He, however, told the court that the defendants were 20, but since some police officers indicted in the case were absent, the 16-count charge earlier preferred on them was amended to 13 for the purpose of arraigning the available seven.

The other defendants include Insp. Aliyu Dadje, Auwalu Bala, Uba Bala, Bashir Waziri, Zubairu Abdullahi and Rayyanu Abdul. When the charge was read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty. Then Labaran prayed the court for a date for trial to begin.

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“[The suspects] having pleaded not guilty to the charges, the prosecution is asking for a date to commence trial and prove all the allegations against the defendants.

“The charge before the court borders on kidnapping, detention, collecting of N106 million ransom, being in possession of unregistered firearms and aiding and abetting of criminals,” he said.

He further told the court that the prosecution would depend on testimonies from investigating officers, documentary evidence and defendants’ statements to prove its case.

Count one of the charge read: “That you, Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) of Ibi Council, Taraba, between February and April 2019 at Takum and Ibi, within the jurisdiction of this court, knowingly seized and detained one Usman Garba at his filling station in Takum, demanded and collected a ransom of N106 million before he was released.”

The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, adjourned the matter until June 22 for commencement of trial. Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had on June 3, 2020, taken over the matter from the police.

NAN also recalled that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, filed a 16-count charge bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running against Wadume and the others.

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.

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