SWITZERLAND, JUNE 27 – Embattled Nigerian Army officer, Captain Tijjani Balarabe, who is under investigation for his role in the killing of policemen that had arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala (Wadume), and the subsequent release of the kingpin, said Wadume lied to him.
According to Balarabe, Wadume lied to him that he was in a hospital receiving treatment, after disappearing from his custody.
Balarabe said this in his statement to the Joint Investigative Panel (JIP), which probed the killing of three police officers and their two civilian assistants on Ibbi-Takum Road, in Taraba State, on August 6, 2019.
The men were attacked and killed by soldiers attached to Battalion 93 commanded by Balarabe.
The soldiers had in their statements detailed the various roles they played in the murder of the operatives of the Intelligence Response Team who were deployed in Ibbi town, Taraba, to arrest Wadume for abducting one Usman Garba.
According to reports, Wadume had received N106.3m ransom and still went ahead to kill his victim because his family failed to provide the additional N20m he demanded.
After the vehicle conveying the policemen and Wadume crashed when a soldier, Sgt. Ibrahim Muhammed, shot the tyres, Balarabe said he interviewed one of the survivors who identified himself as a police officer from Abuja.
Balarabe stated that Wadume was taken to the army camp where his handcuffs were removed.
The captain said, “The guard commander of Gidan Waya told me that the locals arrested one of the suspects and he was with him at the checkpoint and he was having a police ID card; the suspect said he was a policeman from Abuja.
“Lt Yushau Saad brought him from Gidan Waya with the ID card. I interviewed him and he said they were sent from Abuja to arrest the Alhaji (Wadume). We moved the injured (policemen) to the hospital and the DCO Wukari (ASP Aondona Iorbee) confirmed that they are policemen.
“When I arrived at the camp, my soldiers and ASP Iorbee and a civilian were removing handcuffs from the Alhaji (Wadume). I entered my kitchen and picked a spoon to join them in removing the handcuffs.”
After removing the handcuffs, the captain stated that he left Wadume and his two sisters in his living room, while he went to Ibbi town with Lt. Saad to retrieve some rifles belonging to the IRT policemen.
On returning, he said Wadume had disappeared, and when contacted on phone, he claimed he was receiving treatment at an undisclosed clinic.
“Before I left for town, Hamisu and his two sisters were in our parlour; I came back to the camp and could not find Hamisu. I asked my CSM as the next person (officer) to me in the camp, he said he didn’t know when he went out.
“I called Alhaji (Hamisu) and he said he was on a drip at a clinic. I went to the clinic, he was not there. I called him again but he had switched off his phone. All efforts to trace Alhaji proved abortive,” Balarabe narrated.
Speaking on the suspected kidnapper’s relationship with officials in Taraba State, the military officer said he got the number of the state Commissioner of Police from Wadume, stressing that the two men were good friends.
He noted, “I got the number of the commissioner of police from Hamisu because they are good friends. He called the CP before he asked me to call him in respect of a case of Fulani and Jukun.”
The captain admitted that he asked Iorbee to switch off his phone “so that the military police can’t get him on the phone.”
Wadume had identified Balarabe and nine other soldiers as his accomplices. They are Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Markus Michael; L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.