EXCLUSIVE: The full story of wealthy Taraba kidnap kingpin, Wadume

The suspected Taraba kidnap kingpin is a petty fish trader, painter, politician, polygamist with many children and a philanthropist. His wealth status might have been exaggerated because of his generosity and profligate spending.

He was reclusive until the last two years. His wealth, allegedly through kidnapping shot him into ‘prominence’.

He is at the centre of a disagreement between the Army and the Police following soldiers killing of three policemen and a civilian who were on an anti-kidnapping mission in Taraba State.

The incident is under probe following public outcry.

Who is he? His name is Hamisu Bala. His nickname is “Why Do You Mean?”, which many mistake for “Wadume.” He is a Hausa man whose great grand father migrated from Katsina state.

He was born and brought up in Ibi local government area of Taraba State. His late father, Bala, was Hausa, while his mother was Tiv, from Ukum local government area of Benue state.

He holds a secondary school certificate, having attended the Government Secondary School (GSS) Ibi. It was gathered that he was “not a brilliant” Arts student.

“He completed secondary school in 2004 and did not proceed to any tertiary institution,” one of his classmates told The Nation.

Bala, 35, suddenly became so rich that many believe he made it through ‘ritual’. His posh residence in Ibi was built only last year. Before then, he was a petty trader who specialised in buying and selling fish in Ibi.

“He was not even a big trader; he could only afford to buy only one or most of the time, half a basket of fish to sell at retail prices,” a source, who knows him well, said.

Bala was a painter who had partnership with his brother.

During the 2019 polls, he aspired to become a House of Assembly member, representing Ibi Constituency, on the platform of the Young Democratic Party (YDP). But, he did not make it.

After making money Bala has been living the life of a philanthropist.

In the last two years, he reportedly built houses for his friends and donated hundreds of motorcycles and cars to young men and women. He is also believed to be generous to security agents.

“Sometimes he (alleged kidnapper) goes to tea sellers and settles the bills of tea drinkers. Then, he gives N10,000 each to the people,” a source in Ibi said.

Two of his wives have been under house arrest. His other two wives are in Mecca on pilgrimage, it was learnt.

So, how did police know Bala was a big time kidnapper to the extent of apprehending him? One of Bala’s accomplices, known as Kwarba, was apprehended by the police in Jalingo, over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a Permanent Secretary.

During interrogation, Kwarba revealed that Bala was their leader. The police then allowed Kwarba to be communicating with Bala on the phone for over three days, as though he was not in detention. Based on their communication, the police were able to gather useful information.

It was during one of their conversations on the phone that Bala disclosed that he was coming to Ibi for Eid el Kabir celebration. On arrival in Ibi, Bala phoned Kwarba to inform him.

Operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) embarked on the journey. They got to the police headquarters in Jalingo, before proceeding to Ibi, in a white Toyota Hummer Bus marked, LAGOS: MUS-564EU.

They were in mufti, and carried Kwarba along so that he could identify Bala. They met Bala at a coffee joint, at the junction to Government Lodge. Kwarba identified him.

To pull the wool over the kidnapper’s eyes, the policemen in disguise went out and told him they brought a bus for sale. Bala sought to know the cost of the vehicle so that he could buy it, but the policemen suggested they would step aside for bargaining.

It was when he (Bala) got into the bus that the policemen told him they were there to arrest him, after handcuffing and chaining his legs.

After arresting the suspect, the operatives drove into Ibi town briefly and began to drive carefully out of the town.

Soon, the news spread and some of Bala’s ‘boys’ began to chase the vehicle on motorbikes. The operatives had passed the first and second check points, with only one remaining to pass.

Bala’s accomplices then called the military checkpoint where the bus was ambushed. They opened fire on the bus conveying the operatives and suspected kidnapper. The bus somersaulted into the bush, following the barrage of gun fire, as the driver lost control of the wheel.

A source revealed that, after the killing of the three policemen and the civilian, Bala, who was handcuffed and chained in the legs, he called his army captain friend who came with three of his ‘boys’ in a red Tyoyota Corolla.

Our source alleged that the army captain cut the chains on the suspected kidnapper.

“It was around 7:30 am that he (Bala) was taken back to his home in Ibi in the red car,” an eyewitness said.

On getting back to Ibi, his neighbours and Ibi residents went into jubilation. It was gathered that while the jubilation was on, Bala sneaked out of town. He has not been seen since then.

EmporiumReporters had published the murder of the police men in the kidnap/murder saga.

Here are some details from the video which contradicts the army version of the tragic event:

” We will deal with you, you unlucky ones. They showed us ID cards that they were from the IG (Inspector General of Police). Till all of you die, another said, also in Hausa. As this goes on, a booming voice from the crowd of mostly soldiers, many of them not in uniforms, commended the mob and said: “Well done guys, you did well.” Lending further credence to reports that the killings were premeditated, another unidentified voice said: “Let’s set them ablaze with the vehicle,” a suggestion another, perhaps a personnel of a higher rank, responded to almost immediately with an order: “No!
o not burn them.” As the officer battling to stay alive turns as he continues to wriggle in pain, another person in a white fez cap, as if alarmed, shouted: “He is not dead! He is not dead” as he moves and rains a number of slaps on him as the dying man fell back in a sleeping position. Calling on others’ attention, another asked: “Where is their service pistol?” as another swiftly responded: “They have been collected and taken away.” In the meantime, a bulky frame in a yellow top with white fez cap is seen recording a video of the slain policemen as they made to cross check whether the while few minutes earlier had died finally

Lifted by two men by the hands and legs, his corpse is dumped along with the others as a soldier with a riffle walks past the bodies, shouting: “He is defecating. Do not touch the faeces.” As the voices rise even further, a voice is heard in the background saying: “They showed us ID cards that they were from the IG (Inspector General of Police).

They met us at the check point. If they had escaped here, they would definitely not have escaped the road block at Wukari.” Meanwhile, fresh information has emerged on what really went down between the police policemen and soldiers along Ibi-Jalingo Road, leading to the death of three policemen and a civilian. Security agents said the order to attack the policemen, who were on lawful duty to apprehend a suspected kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, was given by an army captain, who is a friend of Wadume.

They were ambushed by the soldiers. Preliminary investigation showed that the kidnap kingpin, who is presently on the run, has many security personnel in Ibi, Taraba State on his pay roll. Operatives got to the police headquarters Jalingo, and perfected their papers as professionals. Then they proceeded to Ibi Town, Taraba State, in their operational Toyota Hummer Bus.” The agent further said: “When the operatives got to Ibi town, they booked their arrival at the police station and proceeded with assistance from a policeman attached to them in the state headquarters, Jalingo, to trace and arrest Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, who is wanted because he is linked to several kidnappings in Taraba State, including a recent kidnapping in which N100million was collected as ransom.

After arresting Wadume, the operatives were heading to police headquarters at Jalingo, when gang members of Wadume, who are close to an army captain serving in Ibi town, called the army and told him that his friend had been kidnapped. “Without any verification or inquiries, the army captain ordered his men along the highway to ambush the policemen.

Thus as the team was moving along Ibi-Jalingo Road, they came under the hail of bullets from soldiers. The soldiers came from behind with another vehicle, as a result the policemen’s bus summersaulted. Thereafter, two policemen and one civilian agent were shot to death by the soldiers at close range. The policemen were shot despite presenting their police identification cards. These policemen also wore police jackets. All the policemen were alive when their vehicles somersaulted. Two operatives, Inspector Mark Idiale and Inspector Abah Mathias, were seriously injured with bullets. They are now receiving treatment at the General Hospital Wukari in Taraba State. Policemen from Ibi Area Command responded to calls and took the injured and dead officers to the hospital. Wadume, who was rescued and released by the soldiers, is presently on the run

Ibi is a small community and within a twinkle of an eye, the scene of the accident and attack swarmed with people and as the soldiers labelled the policemen kidnappers, the people went wild with jubilation. The arrival of the people to the scene actually saved the lives of two policemen, who had earlier crawled to hide. It was gathered that they would have been shot dead too, but for the crowd and they were taken to a part of the army base where deliberations were held regarding whether to kill them or not. One of the soldiers told his colleagues that killing them would be too risky because most of the villagers already captured them alive on their smart phones. Upon telling them the videos would give them away, the soldiers reluctantly took them to a hospital. A security source said: “The three IRT operatives were brutally murdered while on investigation duty in Taraba State by personnel of the Nigerian Army

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