By Brendan Umoren
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.
Police investigation carried out so far has revealed that telephone conversations between the kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, alias Wudume, and the Captain were about 191 within the space of one month between July 9, 2019 and August 6, 2019.
A source told newsmen 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.
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, in Ibi area of Taraba State.
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.
The source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, revealed 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.
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 that the family must pay the N200million they demanded.
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.
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 newsmen 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.
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.”