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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