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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wadume’s Conviction

NIGERIA’s seriousness at combating serious security challenges has again  been called into question with the recent conviction of notorious kidnapper, Hamisu Bala, otherwise known as Wadume by Justice Binta Nyanko of  a Federal High Court. Wadume was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for unlawfully dealing in prohibited firearms and escaping from the prison custody. The charge followed the killing of three police officers and two civilians on August 6, 2019 by some soldiers.

    THE court also convicted Uba Bala Zubairu Abdullahi and Rayyanu Abdul  and sentenced them into seven years imprisonment. Inspector Aliyu Dadje, station officer at the Ibi Divisional Police headquarters in Taraba state at the time the crime was committed bagged three years for tampering with police record to conceal a crime.One Abdul, a resident of Kano, was sentenced to three years for harbouring Wadume after he escaped from police custody.It however discharged and acquitted Auwalu Bala and  Bashir Waziri for want of evidence.

WADUME was earlier picked up by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of police on  August 6,  2019 in Taraba State. He was handcuffed and taken toward Jalingo when the team  came under heavy bombardment from soldiers. In the process, four persons were killed on the spot while several others were injured. Those killed were Inspector Mark Ediale and two sergeants – Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa and a civilian named Jibrin.

THE soldiers then freed the handcuffed suspect, according to a statement by then police spokesperson, Frank Mba, who provided public updates on the matter.From all that transpired at the time, there was no dispute about the fact that Wadume was freed by the soldiers who killed the policemen.

CURIOUSLY enough was the fact that all the elements making Nigeria to be on the edge were present in the scenario. From  kidnapping to complicity by security agencies, to inter- agency rivalry and the way life has become so cheap. The trial seemed to have been shrouded in secrecy as the judgment was made public three weeks later. Also, the report stated that 10 military officers earlier charged with the convicts had their trial “separated for departmental reason”

WE condemn the judgment and  we believe that it did not reflect the actual offence committed and which could be  an encouragement to others with criminal intent that they may be left off the hook by the powers that be if caught.  Our position is that all the military officers involved in the Wadume saga should be made to face the wrath of the law and not be  shielded  from prosecution. We therefore encourage President Muhamadu Buhari to request for report of presidential committee set up to investigate the matter. Sweeping the report under the carpet is not in the best interest of the country.

OUR investigation revealed that no military officer was held accountable for killing the three police officers and a civilian who were on duty. We therefore conclude that it is a story of  no punishment for bad behavior, no justice for slain police officers, and no lessons learnt.

Our position is that the seven- year slammed on Wadume is nothing but a slap on the wrist. Wadume had perpetrated series of kidnappings and should be made to face the consequences of his actions. Therefore, we advise the federal government to appeal the conviction. 

WE concede the  fact that Justice Nyako cannot descend to the arena but merely applied the law based on what was presented before him.We however sound a note of warning that when a nation runs a system where the punishment does not fit the crime and there is no accountability even for lives lost, it is the larger society that suffers. 

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