Suspected kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, a.k.a Wadume, who has been in the middle of the raging storm between the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police over the murder of three police operatives and two civilians by soldiers in Ibi town, Taraba state has finally opened up and made startling revelations.
In an exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard, Wadume gave a blow by blow account of his encounter with both the police and his Army Captain friend in charge of the 93 Battalion, Wukari who aided his escape after his initial arrest by the police.
Wadume who expressed shock at the manner the soldiers opened fire on the Police Toyota Hiace Bus that was conveying him to the Taraba Police Command Headquarters in Jalingo said while he also sustained bullet wounds on his right thigh after the shootings, he never asked the army captain to rescue him from the policemen who arrested him.
He also explained that as at the time he crawled out of the bullet-ridden bus, which somersaulted three times before landing into the bush, the policemen were still alive but he was surprised to see the soldiers who had pursued them to the check-point raining bullets on the policemen before he was whisked in a red-colored car, to the home of the army captain.
He added that after his leg chain and handcuffs were cut off by a welder invited by the army captain, he was greeted by a large crowd of residents of Ibi who were standing beside the corpses of the deceased policemen who were all brought to the home of the army captain. With the sum of N550,000 in his pocket after he was rescued, Wadume said he fled Ibi Town and was hiding in the house of one of his friends, Meito, at Ungwachiki town but 24 hours, later some soldiers trailed him to his friend’s house and wanted to kill him.
He therefore jumped out of the window and fled to the river bank, boarded a speed boat into Tunga area of Nassarawa State, where he spent a night before moving to the home of his maternal uncle in Kano State.
My name is Hamisu Balla, alias Wadume, 33 years old and I am from Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State. I am married to four wives and I have four children. I attended Bula Primary school Ibi, but I dropped out from Government Secondary School Ibi at JSS 3.
After I dropped out school, I started fishing business at the River Benue that flowed through Ibi Town. This was in 1996 and I did fishing for six years, but in the year 2002, I went into fishpond business. I used to buy fingerlings for N30 per one, nurture them for five months before selling them for N600 and N700.
I started small with just two small ponds but I went on to get five more big ponds with 50 by 50 in size and five feet deep. “I am not a kidnapper, but I have sold arms to several kidnappers. I am a fisher farmer, I own fish ponds, I own a transport business.
I am equally a political thug. I went into crime when some politicians came for me, they approached me through one Babangida Musa, who was also into fishing business. I got N6m from a sitting governor, N13m from APC, defrauded civil servant of N30m, In June 2018, I deceived a lot of politicians who were vying for political offices that I had spiritual powers to enable them win their elections.
I defrauded the governor when he came to Ibi and met the youths in my town. As the leader of the youths, the Governor met me and I promised to work for him and to also consult some Mallams who would pray for his success.
The Governor gave me N2million at first and we exchanged telephone numbers. But one week before the election, the governor called me and asked me to come to the Government house and when I got there the governor gave me N4million cash to continue with the prayers. Immediately after the election, the governor called to thank me.
I was also given N13million by the APC to prosecute the 2019 presidential election but I spent only seven million. I also defrauded a civil servant from Ibi of N30million. I contested the Taraba state house of Assembly under the YDP Ibi Local Government but I pulled out of the election and took my supporters to the PDP.
My initial arrest by the police I volunteered to follow the policemen when they came to arrest me at Ibi Town while I was drinking tea with some of my friends. They showed me their identity cards indicating that they were from the office of the Inspector General of Police and I volunteered to follow them, because I knew I could settle any problem I’m confronted with. The policemen handcuffed me and leg-chained me while I was inside their vehicle and the Army Captain wasn’t even there when the policemen came to arrest me and I don’t even know who informed him that I had been arrested.
Slain policemen identified themselves
While I was being taken out of Ibi, Town, the policemen passed the first checkpoint which was being maned by some soldiers after they had identified themselves. They also passed the second checkpoint which was maned by some Mobile Policemen.
But when they got to the third one where we were attacked, four of the policemen alighted from their bus and they identified themselves to the policemen and exchanged banters. I was shocked when the soldiers came after us and rained bullets on our bus, killing those policemen. I was almost killed in the encounter.
I was then taken to the army captain’s house. When I saw the corpses of the policemen and their agents in front of the Captain’s house I became very disturbed and I pretended as if I wanted to urinate and I escaped from the scene.
How I escaped from soldiers who wanted to kill me
I called one Audu who is one of my boys who took me on his bike to Ungwachiki Town in Ibi Local Government and I passed the night in the house of Meito, my friend. But while I was there some soldiers came to Meito’s house and started looking for me and they were armed with guns and machetes and axes, I believed they wanted to kill me.
I don’t know how they got information that I was in that house but I managed to escape through the window and fled to the river bank around 8pm where I boarded a speed boat to Tunga village in Nassarawa State.
I spent a night in Nassarawa state before I boarded another commercial bus to Kano State. People couldn’t recognize me because of the Sallah holiday. I had N500,000 with me as I was running from the police and I took the money to my uncle’s house where I went to hide in Kano.
While I was hiding, I instructed one of my bothers in Ibi to go to my house and take away all my rifles. My cousin also brought an idea that I needed some favorable stories to be written about me, so he engaged a PR company who were to link up with journalists to write the stories. I paid N3million for that.
Confession of Wadume’s cousin
I’m Kawu Moahmmed Kasuwa, 30 years old from Ibi Taraba State, I am a civil servant and I work with Ibi Local Government. I am an executive officer at the Admin Department. Wadume is my uncle, he is a younger brother to my mother.
I was arrested in Zaria, because I made efforts to get journalists to write a favorable story in support of my uncle Wadume who was being hunted by the police. It wasn’t my idea, but one of my uncles who was residing in Lagos State, Ismalia Jita who called me and said that he wasn’t happy with the bad press my Uncle, Wadume was getting since the incident occurred. He wanted me to raise some money to give to the reporters so they could come down to Ibi and speak with the natives and get a good story about the incident which will be favorable to Wadume.
I asked for N3m and they sent me their company’s account number and I gave it to my brother, Awal who knew how the money was paid to the media out fit. I was arrested in Zaria while the police were looking for my uncle, Wadume. But I took them to my other uncle Awal in Abuja who I thought could help in their search for Wadume.
I’ve always been suspicious of Wadume—Elder brother
My name is Auwal Balla, I’m 38 years old, married with four children, I am commercial motorcycle rider at Alaba Rago Market in Lagos. I am known as Auwal Wawa. Wadume is my younger brother and we were born of the same father and mother. I knew my brother to be a fish farmer, a transporter, political thug and a kidnapper. I never knew that my brother was into kidnapping until the police came looking for him after my brother was rescued from the IRT operatives who were killed by the soldiers he called. When Wadume called and asked me to help him hide all his rifles in his house, I asked him what he was doing with all those rifles and he said he was using them for politics.
Then I called one Uban Delu, my step brother and asked him to go to where Wadume kept his rifles and take them away and hide them in a different place. I came to Abuja because some people suggested that we should get the House of Representatives member representing our area to assist us in this matter and the people who were to lead me to the Honorable member asked me to come to Abuja.
While I was in Abuja, one of my nephews, Kawul called and suggested that we should get some media men to write favorable stories for him that will change people’s perception about him. I sold the idea to my younger brother and he bought it. I then asked Kawu to send me the account number of the company which I forwarded to Wadume and he credited the company with that money. I was in Abuja when the police came and arrested me and I confessed that I have been in constant communication with my brother since he was rescued from the police and I also knew that he was in my uncle’s house in Kano. I have always been suspicious of my brother because he was spending too much money and since his business was such that couldn’t yield big money but he always told me to relax, that he was a political thug and was making big money from politicians, it was when he was arrested and rescued that I knew that my brother must have been into kidnapping.
Why I harboured Wadume in my house—Uncle
I’m Rayyanu Abdul, 46, from Kano State. I am married to a wife and I have six children. I am a civil servant and I work with Kano State Senior Secondary School Management Board, Kano. I am Wadume’s uncle, his mother is my elder sister. Wadume told me that he was into fish farming, car sales and cattle rearing but I didn’t know that my nephew was into kidnapping or any other crime.
Three days after the killing of the policemen by the soldiers, I heard on radio that the police were looking for a wanted kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, Wadume and that was when I knew that it was my younger brother that was in the middle of the storm and I became very shocked. Wadume’s elder brother, Auwal then called me and asked me if I had heard what happened to Wadume and I said yes.
Wadume also called me himself and told me he was coming to my house but I asked him to stop at a filling station close to my house where I went to pick him up and took him into my house. When I discovered that Wadume had an injury on his thigh, I brought a doctor who started treating him. Wadume gave me N270,000 to stock the house with enough food stuff and my wife was preparing food for him. He took tea in the morning, ate rice in the afternoon and in the night he would take ‘tuwo’. In 2017, I was poisoned and Wadume and his brother came to visit me in a rented apartment where I was living with my family.
They asked if I had a house and I told them, I only had land on which I had built the foundation and I took Wadume to the site. He saw what I had done and he promised to complete the building for me. Early this year, he came and completed the building and he furnished it for me. The building is a three-bedroom apartment. When he came with his injury, I gave him my room and I moved into my wives’ room and he was staying alone in his room. I don’t know if he was praying regularly in his room.
The Manhunt for Wadume
The manhunt by the Police 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. The petitioner stated that his cousin, Usman Mayo, was kidnapped on February 15, 2019, at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and his kidnapper demanded the sum of N200 million as ransom for his release.
According to the petition, the family of the kidnapped victim negotiated and paid the sum of N85 million first, on March 11, 2019, but the victim was not released. An additional N15 million was paid on March 16, 2019, making a total sum of N100m paid to the kidnappers yet the kidnappers refused to release their victim as they insisted that the family must pay the N200 million they demanded.
The family, therefore, 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 gathered 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.
Following confessions by some kidnap suspects in police custody which allegedly implicated Wadume, the police therefore went on his trail and succeeded in arresting him in his home town, Ibi on August 6. He was being driven to Jalingo by the police team when soldiers opened fire on them along Ibi-Wukari Road, killing three police officers and two civilians. The soldiers were said to have received orders from an army captain to kill the policemen. The aggrieved Nigeria Police in a statement demanded to know why the soldiers killed the policemen even after identifying themselves that they were on official duty. The police equally wondered why the suspected kidnapper who was handcuffed and leg chained by the police was released by the soldiers and allowed to escape. The Army on its part claimed that the soldiers responded to a distress call and that the soldiers mistook the policemen to be kidnappers. The heat generated by the incident prompted President Muhammed Buhari to set up a probe panel to investigate the incident. The panel was yet to submit its report when the police, on August 19 re-arrested him in Kano.