Hafizu Bala, a Welder, on Wednesday, confessed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how soldiers, engaged him to break off handcuffs to free alleged Taraba kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (aka Wadume).
iBrandTV gathered that Wadume was arrested in 2019 over his alleged involvement in several kidnap incidents.
He, however, escaped from custody on August 6, 2019, when gunmen attacked the team of policemen that arrested him.
Wadume is currently answering a 13-count amended criminal charge the Federal Government preferred against him and six of his alleged accomplices that included a police Inspector, Aliyu Dadje.
Police alleged that he was assisted by Soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, led by one Capt. Tijani Balarabe.
The incident resulted in the death of three policemen and two civilians, with five other police officers badly injured.
Though Police initially charged 19 persons to court, including 10 soldiers that were accused of complicity in the crime, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, subsequently took over the prosecution and delisted the soldiers from the amended charge.
Police had complained to the court that the Nigerian Army refused to release the affected soldiers for prosecution.
Meanwhile, aside Wadume and Inspector Dadje, other defendants in the amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2020, are Auwalu Bala (aka Omo Razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu), Bashir Waziri (aka Baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.
The charge against them borders on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running.
At the resumed proceeding on Wednesday, the PW-2, Bala, who told the court that he is a resident of Ibi in Taraba state, gave his evidence in Hausa language with his testimony translated in English.
Led on evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Magaji Labaran, the witness told the court that he was on August 6, 2019, engaged to cut off Wadume’s handcuffs after he escaped from police custody.
He said: “I am a welder and resident of Ibi in Taraba state. I came to testify about what happened.
“On August 6, 2019, I was sitting in my shop when a motorcycle rider came and took me to go and break padlock for him. The rider was a soldier man.
“We went to military camp. We went there and the road was blocked. But the motorcycle rider showed them my tools and handsaw before they allowed us to pass.
“After we went inside, we went straight to Capt. Balarabe’s house. We met Alhaji Hamisu Wadume with two military men, with other people inside.
“I met him with handcuff in his hands and leg. When I went inside he was sitting on a chair, I told them that where he was sitting will not be comfortable for me to do the work, that he should sit on a double chair.
“What they brought me for was to break padlock, but what I saw was a handcuff.
“One of the military men asked him to stand for photograph. Alhaji stood and raised his hand for the picture. After which I started working on the handcuff.
“Eventually, I was able to cut off the handcuff. After that, I did not do any other thing, I went home.
“There is one DCO that assisted me to cut the handcuff”, the welder added.
After he was discharged, another witness, Ahmad Suleiman (a.k.a Dan Ball), narrated how Capt. Balarabe called him to assist him to retrieve a rifle from one of the Defendants.
Suleiman who identified himself as a businessman and resident of Ibi in Taraba state equally testified in Hausa language.
He said: “I came to testify about what I know of this case. On August 6, 2019, I was attending meeting of old boys at Government Secondary School, Ibi, when Tanimu called and told me that some kidnappers came to kidnap Alhaji Hamisu Wadume.
“After that, I told my classmates what happened. I observed that everyone became worried and eager to leave the place.
“When I got back to my shop around 8:30 pm, one Captain Balarabe Tijjani called me and asked if I know one Baba Runs, I said yes. He told me that one of their riffles was with him and I should meet him and tell him to bring back their riffle.
“After I met him, he told me that he picked it, and had already returned it to where he picked it. I then called back Capt. Balarabe and told him exactly what he told me.
“He told me that I should tell Baba Run to return back their riffle to him. But Baba Runs said he was afraid and cannot return it.
“I still told Capt. Balarabe exactly what Baba Runs told me. Baba Runs then said unless he will give me the riffle to go and return to them.
“Capt. Balarabe said no problem that I should follow Baba Runs to collect the riffle. I then went and collected the riffle and called Capt. Balarabe.
“He came together with one other military man, they took the riffle and went away.
“Captain told me that the riffle is their own. After then, I went back to where I do my business”.
The witness identified Baba Runs as the 5th Defendant in the dock.
The court had earlier discharged the first witness who is an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Felix Adolije, after he was cross-examined by the defence lawyers – Ishaka Dikko (SAN), M. I Toga, Y. Dandana, Amanze Amanze, Abass Ajiya, Kuzaet Magaji and F. O Fagbemi.
Adolijie led the police team that had gone to arrest Wadume but were attacked in the incident that led to loss of lives.
Meantime, trial Justice Binta Nyako adjourned further hearing on the case till next week Tuesday.
Though the trial judge declined to grant bail applications that were made by the Defendants, she ordered that they should be transferred from detention centre of Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, to a Correctional Center.
Justice Nyako further directed the Director-General of Nigerian Correctional Service to grant the Defendants access to medical facilities, even as she ordered accelerated hearing of the case.