The Federal Government on Monday, arraigned alleged Taraba kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (aka Wadume), and six other defendants on 13 counts bordering on terrorism.
When the matter was called, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran prayed the court to have the charge read to the defendants.
He, however told the court that the defendants were 20, but since the prosecution had not gotten a hold of all the defendants, the 16-count charge earlier preferred on them was amended to 13 counts for the purpose of arraigning seven of the defendants.
The other defendants are; Insp. Aliyu Dadje, Auwalu Bala, Uba Bala, Bashir Waziri, Zubairu Abdullahi and Rayyanu Abdul.
When the charge was read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty.
Labaran prayed the court for a date for trial to begin.
“Having pleaded not guilty to the charge, the prosecution is asking for a date to commence trial and prove all the allegations against the defendants.
“The charge before the court borders on kidnapping, detention, collecting of N106 million ransom, being in possession of unregistered firearms and aiding and abetting of criminals,“ he said.
He further told the court that the prosecution will depend on testimonies from investigating officers, documentary evidence, and defendant statements to prove its case.
Count one of the charge read: ”That you Hamisu Bala, (aka Wadume) of Ibi Local Government Area, Taraba between February and April 2019 at Takum and Ibi Local Government Area, within the jurisdiction of this court, knowingly seized and detained one Usman Garba at his filling station in Takum, demanded and collected a ransom of N106 million before he was released”.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako adjourned the matter until June 22 for the commencement of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) recalls that the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF) and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami took over the matter from the police on June 3.
NAN further recalled that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had filed a 16-count charge bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running against Wadume and the others.
They were accused of conspiring to commit felony, to wit: acts of terrorism, by attacking and kidnapping one Usman Garba, aka Mayo, at his filling station in Takum, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013.”
They were also accused of possessing six AK-47 rifles and dealing in prohibited firearms contrary to Section 27 (1)(a)(I) and (1)(b)(iii) of the Firearms Act 2004.