SECURITY operatives have arrested 25 people in connection with the recent murder of three policemen in Taraba State who were shot by soldiers while they were taking notorious kidnapper Hamisu Wadume into custody.
In one of the biggest breaches of security ever known, the three policemen were shot dead by troops of the Nigerian Army who are suspected of being on the payroll of the kidnapper. After shooting the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) policemen in cold blood, the soldiers then set Mr Wadume free and he remains at large up until now.
Enraged by the incident, the Nigeria Police Force claim that the soldiers were in cahoots with the kidnappers and it has emerged that the army captains who ordered the shooting spoke with Mr Wadume on the phone 191 times. According to one source, Mr Wadume maintained and oiled a machinery of security operatives, including police and military personnel from across Taraba State, who fed him with information on movements and location of victims for kidnapping.
They were also said to have fed the kidnap kingpin with dossiers of those capable of paying good ransom fees as well as possible hideouts and escape routes. Through tracking and interception facilities, investigators were able to discover conversations which unravelled the roles of both the police and military personnel who were on the kidnappers’ payroll.
One source said: “I can tell you that over 20 military and police personnel have been arrested since this investigation started. They gave the kingpin coverage all these years the police have been looking for him, which is the reason it has taken this long to get him.”
The killing of the IRT members, including Assistant Superintendent of Police Felix Adolije, Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa as well as civilian Olajide Owolabi, sparked off national outrage, with family members, individuals and groups calling on the federal government to ensure justice was done on the matter.
The joint investigation panel is headed by Rear Admiral Olaiya and has a representative each from the army, navy, air force, police, Department of State Service and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
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By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Evelyn Usman & Ifeanyi Okolie
ABUJA—The Nigerian Army Captain who allegedly ordered soldiers on security check-point along the Ibi-Jalingo Expressway in Taraba State, to attack and kill police operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, has been identified. Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that police investigation carried out so far has revealed that telephone conversations between the kidnap kingpin, Wadume and the Captain, were about 191 within the space of one month between July 9, 2019, and August 6, 2019. The source explained that the police authorities believed that the army captain might have been providing cover for the kidnapper, who is said to have received hundreds of millions as ransom from his victims.
Vanguard gathered that the Army Captain , who is currently undergoing interrogation at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, was arrested alongside five other Army personnel, who were alleged to have taken part in the horrific killing of the three policemen and their two civilian agents in an operation to arrest a notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, alias Wudume, in Ibi area of Taraba State.
Vanguard learned yesterday that the arrested solders confessed that they received orders to attack the policemen from the captain, whom they said informed them that Wadume had been kidnapped and was being transported in a silver-coloured Toyota Hiace Bus.
A source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, told Vanguard that the soldiers claimed that they acted squarely on the orders of the captain, being their superior officer, but Police sources at Force Headquarters Abuja, disclosed that the police authorities have established strong links between the army captain and the notorious kidnapper, alleging that the army captain was on the kidnapper’s payroll.
The source added further that its investigations have also revealed that the army captain, who was not present in Ibi Town at the time the IRT operatives arrested Wadume, might have ordered his men to attack and kill the IRT operatives as well as rescue his friend, the kidnapper. Petition against Wadume received
Meanwhile, Vanguard also gathered, yesterday, that the IRT’s manhunt to arrest and bring down Wadume’s kidnapping empire began in March 2019, when it received a petition from one Sheriff Umar of Kirikinua South Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It was gathered further that the petitioner reported that his cousin, Usman Mayo was kidnapped on the 15th of February, 2019 at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and his kidnapper demanded the sum of N200 million as ransom for his release. The source explained that the family of the kidnapped victim negotiated and paid the sum of N85 million first, on March 11, 2019, but the abductee was not released. He said they paid an additional N15 million, on March 16, 2019, making a total sum paid to the kidnappers N100 million and the kidnappers refused to release their victim insisting that the family must pay the N200million they demanded.
The source explained that the family reported to the police and the IRT was drafted to investigate and track down the suspects behind the kidnapping and rescue the victim.
It was learned that while investigations into the matter commenced, members of the kidnapped victim’s family paid an additional N20m to the kidnappers and the victim was released, but the police discovered during investigations that Wadume had strong links to the kidnappers, who got N120 million as ransom from their victim.
I sold 6 AK-47 rifles to Wadume — Ajomo
The police source, further disclosed that it investigations also revealed that Wadume, had bought several AK-47 rifles from a notorious trans-border arms dealer, Ojomo Adebowale Gbenga, who was arrested in May 2019, by operatives of the IRT for supplying heavy arms and ammunition to kidnappers and armed robbers.
45-year-old Ojomo, said to be a major arms dealer in the South-Western part of the country, made startling revelations about the fleeing Wadume during an interview.
Ojomo, who was earlier in the year paraded by police authorities over his criminal activities and later detained in Lagos, told Vanguard that he met Alhaji Wadume four years ago in Benue State and had been selling arms to him under the guise of using them to fight terrorist Fulanis.
Speaking with Vanguard, Ojomo said that he got to know Wadume through his business partner, Moses in Benue State, and he told him that he needed rifles to fight herdsmen who were killing farmers in his community. The gun runner explained that he got all the rifles, which he sold to Wadume and his friends from Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya and he said he sold the arms to them because they told him that they were having community clashes.
He further disclosed: “I started selling fire arms since 1993 after my secondary school. I worked with a company that deals on licensed arms in 1993 and I left in 1996 and went to school but, I linked up with arms dealers in Ibadan, which is the headquarters of arms dealing in the south western part of the country. I started selling automatic firearms which is prohibited, then one of my friends who is now late, Moses led me to the north. He took me to Benue State and I sold arms to several people, including Alhaji Hamisu (Wadume). He came to me through Moses’ contacts and they identified him as a don. You know arms dealing is a cartel business. I knew very little about him and I sold eight rifles to him in 2015 and in January 2019, he called again and told me that he needed 10 rifles, but I had only six and because he was in hurry, I sold them to him at N800,000 each, and the bullets for N350,000 per can. But after my arrest, I gave information about him to the police. It was while in detention I heard he has been arrested. Police inspector arrested, recants
Also, a Police Inspector who was accused of informing the Army that operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team that visited Ibi community in Taraba state, last week to effect the arrest of the suspected kidnap kingpin did not report to Police authorities, has been arrested.
Preliminary investigation, as reliably gathered, revealed that the policeman was cajoled to say so in order to cement pieces of evidence by troops of the 93 Battalion that the operatives were not only kidnappers but were there on an illegal duty.
It was also learned that one of the villagers who allegedly collected the firearms from the dead policemen revealed during interrogation that the weapons belonging to the slain police officers were collected from him by some soldiers.
Vanguard learned that the Police inspector attached to Ibi Police Station confirmed that the operatives visited the station to inform the senior officer there that they had concluded their operations and were leaving with the arrested suspect.
Unconfirmed reports said the policeman was given an undisclosed amount of money to maintain his stand that he told the troops that the policemen did not report at the station.
However, sources said the Inspector denied during interrogation at Force Headquarters, Abuja, that he did not collect any money from the Army. It was further learned that about three villagers collected the firearms that were flung in different places into the bush after the police team was shot when their vehicle somersaulted. One of them was said to have taken the arms to his home from where it was collected by the soldiers. A villager who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the suspected kidnap kingpin who is still on the run, is a popular person in Ibi community.
He was said to have contested for the House of Assembly, Ibi constituency in the last election, under the Young Democratic Party, but lost. The 35-year-old man, said to be a petty trader, was revered in the community, due to his philanthropic nature.
He was said to have bought motorcycles for some youths, some of who thronged the scene where the operatives were killed, jubilating that their benefactor’s enemies had been overpowered.
At the moment, villagers in Ibi community are said to be keeping sealed lips on what transpired during the arrest of the suspected kidnapper, last week, for fear of being attacked by loyalists to the suspect.
Some of those close to the kidnap suspects have taken to their heels, apparently to avoid being arrested over his whereabouts.
Widow to address press today
Meanwhile, widow of the slain Inspector Mark Ediale, who is yet to come to terms with the rude shock of her husband’s demise, has left Lagos for the Force headquarters, Abuja, where she was received by senior police officers who condoled her and other widows over the tragic incident. But her late husband’s family, it was reliably gathered, will be briefing journalists in Abuja today, where some salient questions would be posed to killers of their son.
The family, Vanguard learned, is requesting an explanation on how Inspector Ediale died when he was seen alive in a video clip that went viral. (Vanguard)
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The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has charged Commanding Officers of Army units within the South South, South East and South West zones of the country to work towards tackling crimes and criminality within their areas of responsibilities. General Buratai spoke at the Nigerian Army First Commanding Officers workshop for 2019, urging the Commanding Officers to tackle kidnapping, smuggling, pipeline vandalism and terrorism.
He tasked them to work close with the authorities within their areas of responsibilities to be able to gather intelligence and ensure that they nip crisis rocking these areas in the bud. The Army Chief, who was represented by the Commander, Nigerian Army Signals Corps, Major General Mohammed Mohammed, urged the commanding officers to refresh their minds on how to confront criminality within the areas they are deployed to.
He said that all operations in which the Army was involved in across the country was to sharpen the knowledge of the commanding officers and make them perform optimally, adding that the workshop was put together to ensure that they share knowledge with other Commanding Officers participating in the workshop.
He said: “We have informed the commanding officers to understand that workshops like this are intended to refresh their minds, their experiences and for them to share knowledge with their colleagues from other regions.
“Like you understand, the commanding officers here are from the South South, South East and South West and there is rich knowledge of activities going on in these areas. So, bringing them together here is for them to share knowledge and to understand also the new directive and policies that will guide their conduct and understand the need to integrate with the societies where they are working.”
General Brutai tasked the officers to learn from their contemporaries on how to apply leadership skills in their various units, adding that the workshop was aimed at improving the skills of the Commanding Officers towards developing a more professional and efficient approach to the performance of their statutory roles in both peace and war times.
“I am highly delighted to be in this occasion of the first Commanding Officers workshop, which is highly necessary in line with our vision to the security challenges confronting us on daily basis, and also to find a solution to those challenges,” he said.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Major General Musa Yusuf, said the training activities were designed by the Army Headquarters to enhance and build the capacity of the Commanding Officers.
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The Nigerian Army says it is taking steps to report Dr Sidi Ali Mohammed, a member of Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI), to appropriate authority over his knowledge on Boko Haram welfare.
The spokesman of the army, Col. Sagir Musa made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
Musa was reacting to Mohammed’s allegation that the “terrorist group members earn as much as $3,000 daily as against the Nigerian soldier who is paid N1, 000 only.’’
He, however, urged Nigerians to discountenance the statement credited to Mohammed, saying “steps are being taken to formally report him to the appropriate authorities to further substantiate these unfounded allegations.’’
Musa said that the Nigerian army’s attention was drawn to the “false claim credited to Mohammed as published by the Sahara Reporters and other social media platforms.’’
“In it, he alleged that the criminal terrorist group members earn as much as $3,000 daily, as against the Nigerian soldier who is paid N1, 000 only.
“This is not true, pure lie and highly irresponsible comment coming from a supposedly knowledgeable person of his calibre.
“It is also criminal and preposterous to compare the gallant soldiers of our Armed Forces with the rag tag terrorists’ criminal gang.
“Indeed there is no such basis at all between the outlawed criminal terrorist who commits crime against humanity and our highly patriotic, courageous and brave soldiers whose sacrifice cannot be quantified,’’ Musa said.
He said over time, the army had been alerting the world that the menace of Boko Haram terrorism was being “aided and abetted by sympathisers such as Doctor Sidi Ali Mohammed.’’
“He must have been associated with the terrorists’ group beyond what he may want the public to know for having the knowledge of how much a terrorist earns per day to commit atrocities against fellow Nigerians and other innocent people including women and children.’’
The army spokesman alleged that Mohammed’s statement could be part of a deliberate attempt to demoralise patriotic troops serving their fatherland so that the terrorists. (Scannews)
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Southern Christians task INEC, security agents on credible elections
President General Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Nnia J. Nwodo
Raphael Ede, Enugu
Ohanaeze Ndigbo has warned the Federal government and Nigerian Army in particular against a repeat of September 2017, Operation Python Dance experience which saw Igbo sons and daughters being killed in a gruesome manner without consequences.
In a statement, the Ohanaeze President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said that the marching orders given by the Chief of Army Staff to Division and Garrison commanders in the South East of Nigeria to go after IPOB members in the region in order to forestall their threat to boycott the forthcoming general elections might be a well-planned agenda to execute carnage. IPOB had threatened to hold a referendum on the said date.
Chief Nwodo said “Ohaneze is disturbed that this kind of order might be misconstrued to execute carnage, drowning in shallow water and inhuman and degrading treatment on our youths as happened in the last Operation Python Dance in Abia State.
“IPOB remains a peaceful organisation championing self-determination. Their last threat for a boycott of Anambra State elections witnessed no violence but instead, we saw a higher turnout of voters than in the previous elections. The army did not order any such operation then as they are ordering now.
“We hope this operation is not aimed at scaring the people of the South East from coming out to cast their votes. We should be allowed to use our traditional rulers, community leaders, and religious leaders to restrain our children,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Southern Christian Forum on Tuesday warned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the security agencies against compromising the forthcoming general elections.
It said that anything short of the credible election would not be accepted by Nigerians and would be resisted.
This was contained in a communiqué the forum issued after an emergency meeting of the youth wing of the forum.
The communiqué signed by Priscilla Adetoye, Vice Chairman, South-West; Iniabasi Asuquo, Secretary, South-South, and Deacon Vincent Ogbonna, Chairman, South-East, said the INEC must allow the will of the people to prevail in the elections.
It read: “Christians should come out en-mass and support a man who can restructure and revive the country’s economy.
“The Christian youths should shun violence before, during and after elections,” they said, adding “the security agencies must, however, be non-partisan in the discharge of their duties during the elections.
“That the Independent National Electoral Commission should ensure that there is free, fair and credible election across the country.
“That Nigerians should stand against vote-buying during the election.” (The Sun)
Nigeria Army Monday said the reports that many soldiers went missing after their post was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents were not true.
An AFP reports Sunday said hundreds of soldiers after the attack, a second in days, on a remote military base which held about 734 troops in northeast Nigeria.
The base is reported to be new and the troops arrived there only recently from Lagos.
The reports quoted an unnamed military source.
“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81st Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted until 9:10 pm,” the unnamed military source told AFP.
“The base had 734 troops. Currently, the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said, without elaborating on their possible fate.
“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later.”
Although it acknowledged that there was a gun battle between the insurgents and troops and that the soldiers had an initial difficulty, the Army said none of its troops was captured, calling the reports “misleading”.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to state categorically that the report is not only untrue but misleading as the said report is blown out of proportion by the media,” Army spokesman Texas Chukwu said in a statement.
“The Nigeria Army wishes to state that there was an attempted attack on troops at Kwakwa and Chingori communities in Bama area of Borno State by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists as a result of difficult terrain where our vehicles bogged down.
“The terrorists also attempted to cart away troops operational vehicles but were successfully repelled by our gallant troops with the support of the Nigerian Air Force. About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised while several others escaped with gunshot wounds. (The Guardian)
There has been a major shake-up in the Nigerian Army with the appointment of a new Director Military Intelligence and an acting Provost Marshall.
The appointment Friday now has Major-General S.A Adebayo, as the new Director Military Intelligence (DMI), while Brigadier-General H. Ahmed, is acting Provost Marshal (Army).
The redeployment, Daily Sun gathered, might not be unconnected with the allegation of negligence in the area of intelligence gathering and information management concerning the abduction of the female students of Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Others affected in the redeployment, contained in a document of posting and appointment/amendment of Nigerian Army officers, signed by Major-General F. Yamaha, Military Secretary (Army), included Majors-General H. Garba, who is now Chief of Defence Logistics, K I Abdulkareem, Nigerian Army Resource Centre, A. A. Tarfa, former DMI, to Nigerian Army Corp of Artillery as Corps Commander and A. M. Dikko, to Defence Headquarters.
Others are I O Rabiu, J B Olawunmi, Corp Commander Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, G Oyefosobi, Commander, NATRAC, KAY Isiyaku, A T Haman, former Provost Marshall is to move to the DHQ, as Director Peace Keeping Operations, M O Uzoh, DHQ, AM Aliyu, to Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and HTZ Vintinaba, to DHQ.
Also affected were Brigadiers-General FOE Pearce, NAWC, S. Mohammed, Acting Director DMPIA, and A A Aribiyi.
Sources told Daily Sun, that while the Army authorities might not be taking the allegations by Amnesty International for its inability to act on advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters were heading towards a town where the schoolgirls were abducted, it is also not taking the warning contained in a memo dated February, 8, from the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), alerting of an impending attack by the terrorists lightly.
Besides, President Muhammadu Buhari’s warning to security chiefs earlier on Friday to sit up or have themselves to blame as he could no longer tolerate any lapses in the security sector was also not being taken lightly by Army authorities.
It was also gathered that the Army authorities which felt very embarrassed over the abduction which was described as disgraceful by the Federal Government are digging deep to get to the root of the matter.
In the coming days, more changes should be expected according to sources to pave a new course for the counter-terrorists war. (The Sun)