Taraba: Slain Cop’s Brother Blasts Malami’s Decision to Shield Killer Soldiers

Taraba: Slain Cop’s Brother Blasts Malami’s Decision to Shield Killer Soldiers: The family of one of the policemen killed by soldiers who set free an alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu,  from police custody, has expressed disappointment in the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), for sparing the alleged killer soldiers from charges.

Speaking for the family in an interview with MEDIANGR on Friday, an elder brother to the deceased, Mr Andrew Ediale, described Malami’s removal of the soldiers’ names from the charges earlier filed against them alongside Hamisu as shameful and constituting a grave injustice.

Andrew stated, “It’s terrible and horrible. It is a grave injustice. We are really not happy. It is like opening up the wound all over again. When you expect something of this magnitude, you expect justice to really prevail and you see this disappointment on the side of the government. It’s a shame. We are unhappy.”

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Hamisu, also known as Wadume, was allegedly assisted to escape on August 6, 2019, by soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe after the police team which arrested him came under attack from the troops.

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Three policemen and two civilians were killed during the incident while five police officers were injured.

The dead included Inspector Mark Ediale, 36; Sgt. Dahiru Musa, 40; Owolabi Babajide, 24; Farouk Bashir, 30; and Usman Danazumi, 44.

The police filed terrorism charges against Wadume along with the soldiers and policemen involved the kidnapping and attack on cops who arrested Wadume.

But the AGF, who took over the case from the police on June 3, 2020, subsequently removed the names of the soldiers from the charges.

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Malami removed the names of the soldiers from the charges despite a pending order of Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja issued on March 16, 2020 compelling the Army authorities to produce them in court for arraignment.

The Ediale family who has already briefed human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), to help them to seek redress over the killing of their son, said on Friday that justice must be done.

Andrew said, “It is about getting justice. That is really it. We want justice to prevail. We want the perpetrators to be charged and brought to book. We want justice to prevail. We want them to be charged, arraigned and found guilty of the murder charges about the killing of my brother.”

Andrew noted that his brother’s survivors included an aged mother, a widow, Olubunmi, and a four-year old daughter, Adesuwa. He added that their late father retired as a police officer.

He described his late brother as an amazing police officer who loved his job.

He said, “He was amazing. He was a man that really loved his job, he loved his occupation and took every precaution. He did his job with pride. He was the kind of person you could rely on and trust in the line of duty. He took his job seriously.

“He was in the Force for long. We came from police background. My father used to be a policeman before he retired. This was what really made it traumatic for the family. My father retired and died at the pinnacle of his age.  Doing the job of the government in securing the nation, the same government that sent him on an errand did this to him.”

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Meanwhile, the former station officer, Ibbi Police Station, Inspector Aliyu Dadje, arrested for involvement in Wadume’s release has disclosed that Capt. Tijjani Balarabe, forced him to conceal evidence in the matter.

The inspector, dismissed from service for aiding Wadume, stated that Balarabe threatened to kill him if he refused to destroy the records showing the visit of the Intelligence Response Team to the station on August 6, 2019, Wadume’s arrest.

Wadume in his statement identified Dadje and 10 soldiers as his accomplices. They include Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon and Corporal Markus Michael.

Others are L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel, ASP Aondona Iorbee, and one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball).

Dadje in his statement to the Joint Investigation Panel set up by the Chief of Defence Staff, explained that he destroyed the entry made by the police team in the station’s incident book following the threats by Balarabe.

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The panel, set up by the Chief of Defence Staff and headed by Rear Admiral I. Olaiya, probed the killing of the three policemen and two civilians by soldiers commanded by Balarabe.

The JIP included a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services and the Defence Intelligence Agency.

The former station officer in his statement to the JIP dated August 9, 2019, said, “I got a call from my DCO (Divisional Crime Officer) that I should bring a handcuff key so we will remove the handcuffs from the suspect’s hand. I told him I have no key. When he called me for the second time, I handed over the phone to Constable Bawa Emmanuel who told him he had no key.

“Later, Balarabe with his team came to the station and he threatened to kill me if I don’t remove the entry made by the men from Abuja; I had no option than to instruct the station writer, PC Vandi Monday, to tear the said entry page, which he did.”

Twenty-four hours after the attack on the policemen, Dadje stated that he saw Balarabe and his boys taking away two vehicles belonging to Wadume from his house to the residence of one Alh. Saleh Danburan in Ibbi, apparently to hide them.

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He noted, “The following day on August 7 at about 18:00 hours, I saw Capt. Balarabe and his men conveying two vehicles belonging to the suspect, Wadume, from his house to the house of one Alh. Saleh Dan Buranin of Ibbi and parked them there.”

The Defence spokesman, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu and his Army counterpart, Col. Sagir Musa, failed to respond to inquiries when asked about the delay in taking disciplinary action against Balarabe and his troops for their alleged involvement in the killing of the policemen.

Army yet to release killer soldiers for prosecution — Malami

However, Malami in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Dr Umar Gwandu, on Friday, said the soldiers had not been spared from prosecution.

He said names of the soldiers were only removed from the charges as Wadume’s accomplices because they had yet to be released by the Army authorities.

The statement indicated that the soldiers were ‘perhaps undergoing undergoing ‘military processes before their release’, hence the need to separate their charges from the ones involving Wadume and other co-defendants.

He said the minister’s office would arraign them immediately after their release by the military.

The statement read in part, “Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has said that no names were dropped in the Wadume case..

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“What the Office did was to severe the charges in view of the unavailability of the soldiers who in their own case need to be released by the military authorities in view of the fact that they were perhaps undergoing military processes before their release. The interest of justice requires and legitimately allowed for segmenting the case in the interest of speedy trail.

“It is in the interest of justice to accord speedy trial to the accused persons that are readily available to stand trial as against delaying at the expense of other co-accused persons who in the peculiarity of this case are not available for immediate arraignment.

“It is a common practice that absence of a co-accused will not constitute impediment to the progress of a case. Those available are entitled to fair trial and have their case determined within a reasonable time as a matter of constitutional rights. More so, looking at the fact that the available accused persons are not to be held responsible for the unavailability of the co-accused persons.


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