‘Kidnap Kingpin’ Wadume receives heroic welcome in Taraba after jail term

A large crowd welcomed “kidnap kingpin”, Hamisu Bala, better known as Wadume, to his hometown in Ibbi Taraba State, on Sunday.

Wadume, who was arrested by men of the Intelligence Response Team of Inspector-General of Police, in 2019, was released from Kuje Prison in Abuja, on Friday, according to sources.

Prison sources told Daily Trust that he had concluded his jail sentence which ran concurrently.

Daily Trust gathered that the convict was ferried into Ibbi through river Benue, where he was received by thousands of people, including youths and women.

A resident of Ibbi town, Musa Garba, said the town was at standstill for Wadume.

Garba said the elderly and youths trooped out to receive Wadume by the river side and from there he went through the town before retiring to his house.

Another resident simply identified as Nuhu said, “We are in festive mood as Wadume regained his freedom and now out of prison and now with us in in his home town Ibbi.”

Wadume addressing his people

Meanwhile, Wadumi has visited the Chief of Ibbi chiefdom, Alhaji Salihu Danbawuro, at his palace.

Wadume told the chief that he was at the palace to thank the chief and the entire people of his chiefdom.

He said through out his trial, the chief and his subjects stood firmly with him and prayed for his safety and good health while in prison.

The chief, Saliha Danbawuro, told Wadume that he and his subjects were happy that he is out of prison.

“I and the entire people of Ibbi chiefdom are happy that Hamisu Wadume is now back in Ibbi his home town.” the chief said.

Arrested by police, freed by soldiers

Controversy trailed his arrest in 2019 after the IRT team of the IGP squad that arrested him were attacked by soldiers while on their way to Abuja. The soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Ibbi-Takum road, led by Tijjani Balarabe, were reported to have set Wadume free and subsequently killed some of the officers who arrested him, on August 6, 2019,.

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

The soldiers were questioned by a joint panel charged with probing the incident.

In his statement to the joint investigation panel, Balarabe reportedly confessed using a spoon to open the handcuffs.

Balarabe said he had interviewed one of the injured police officers after Ibrahim Muhammed, an army sergeant, shot at the tyres of one of the vehicles conveying the policemen.

“The guard commander of Gidan Waya told me that the locals arrested one of the suspects and he was with him at the checkpoint and he was having a police ID card; the suspect said he was a policeman from Abuja,” Balarabe was quoted to have said.

“Lt Yushau Saad brought him from Gidan Waya with the ID card. I interviewed him and he said they were sent from Abuja to arrest the alhaji (Wadume). We moved the injured policemen to the hospital and the DCO Wukari (ASP Aondona Iorbee) confirmed that they are policemen.

“When I arrived at the camp, my soldiers and ASP Iorbee and a civilian were removing handcuffs from the alhaji (Wadume). I entered my kitchen and picked a spoon to join them in removing the handcuffs.”

The army captain further explained that he took Wadume and his two sisters to his house while he went to Ibbi town with Saad to retrieve some rifles belonging to the IRT policemen. He said on returning, Wadume had disappeared.

But two weeks after he was freed illegally, Wadume was traced to a house he bought in Kano and rearrested.

Our correspondents, who visited the house located at Yan Dodo after the rearrest, were told that Wadume bought the house a few months before his rearrest.

One of his neighbours, who craved anonymity, said Wadume relocated to the house with some members of his family.

The neighbour said Wadume was captured along with a young man suspected to be his brother.

A Federal High Court in Abuja later sentenced him to seven years in jail. Wadume was convicted and jailed for escaping from lawful custody and unlawfully dealing in prohibited firearms. But the prosecution failed to prove the charges of kidnapping against him.

The judge, Binta Nyako, found Wadume guilty on counts 2 and 10 of the 13 charges preferred against him and six others by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

She also jailed four of Wadume’s co-defendants charged in the case of tampering with evidence, aiding and abetting, and unlawful possession of firearms. The five convicts include a police officer, Aliyu Dadje, a police inspector

The convicts were jailed in the judgement of the court delivered by Nyako,

Kuje jail break

Aftermath of Kuje jailbreak
When suspected Boko Haram militants raided Kuje Prison in 2022, it was reported that Wadume had escaped, but the prison authorities later set the record straight.

Known for charity in his hometown, Wadume contested for a seat in the Taraba State House of Assembly under the platform of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) in 2019.

He later defected from the YDP to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Like Wadume, Like Ibori

The reception Wadume got in his hometown is similar to that of former Governor James Ibori of Delta State. When, in 2017, Ibori returned home after serving 4-year jail term in a UK prison, a mammoth crowd welcomed him to Oghara, his hometown in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta.

Ibori, who was convicted by a British court on charges of money laundering, arrived at the Benin Airport in neighbouring Edo State aboard a chartered plane, IZYAIR, with registration number India Zulu Yanky (5NIZY), on February 4, 2017.

From Benin, he moved straight to his Oghara residence, which was besieged by supporters and political associates.

Hundreds of the well-wishers trekked around the town carrying leaves while some painted their faces with chalk jubilating. Similarly, musical stands were set up in various locations in the town as musicians entertained the crowd. It was a carnival of a sort, just as the situation was in Ibbi.

(Daily Trust)

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