…fixes Oct 13 for continuation of trial
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, admitted into evidence, two confessional statements that were allegedly made by co-defendants of alleged Taraba kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (aka Wadume).
The two confessional statements that trial Justice, Binta Nyako, admitted and marked as Exhibits H and I, were allegedly made to the police by the 2nd and 6th Defendants in the charge.
While the 2nd Defendant, Aliyu Dadje, is a Police Inspector, the 6th Defendant, Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho), was arrested for being in possession of two AK-47 Rifles he claimed belonged to Wadume.
It was alleged that Inspector Dadje, as the station officer of Ibi Divisional Police Headquarters at Ibi LGA Taraba state, being aware that an offence of terrorism had been committed by one Capt Ahmed Balarabe and his team, in that they attacked and killed three of the IGP IRT team and two civilians that went to arrest Wadume, tampered with the entry made by the leader of the IGP IRT team, Asp Felix Adolije, by tearing off the entry page to cover up for the soldiers.
Both Dadje and Abdullahi had on Monday when the case came up for trial, challenged the admissibility of their confessional statements, claiming that it was obtained from them under duress.
Following their contention that the statements the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Yetunde Adeola-Cole, sought to tender in evidence was not voluntarily made, Justice Nyako, conducted trial-within-trial in the matter.
Testifying during the process, Inspector Dadje told the court that he was induced to make the statement to implicate Capt. Balarabe and his team of soldiers.
He said Police promised that he would be set free once he made the statement to favour the IRT squad.
Dadje, however, lamented that he was still detained even after he conceded to demand by Police to implicate the soldiers.
Testifying also, the 6th Defendant, Abdullahi who identified himself as a health worker, said he was told at the Police station to agree that Wadume gave him guns.
“I was told that if I did not agree that I was given a gun, I would be taken to a place called theatre, where they torture people”.
He said when he turned down the request, the investigating officer took him to the torture room around 1pm.
“They used two-by-four plank to hit my back, later they tied my hand to my back. They used a drum and hanged me, I was suspended mid air. They used block and kept on my back. I still have the evidence of the torture on my hands.
“One policeman hit me with a gun and I sustained injury on the head. From there they asked me to accept that I had a gun and it is with Alhaji Hamisu, but I refused.
“They continued beating me till I felt like I would die. It went to the extent that I could not even hear what they were saying. By that time I became unconscious.
“I later saw myself outside with one of the police officers massaging my body. After I came back to consciousness, he still asked me to accept the condition. Due to the pressure and torture, I agreed. They now wrote the statements and asked me to sign and I did”, he added.
Meanwhile, ruling on the admissibility of the statements on Wednesday, Justice Nyako, noted that under section 29 of the Evidence Act, the onus was on the prosecution to establish that the statement was obtained voluntarily.
Justice Nyako held that in view of the fact that the prosecution maintained that the statement was voluntarily made, she held that mere denial of making or signing contents of the statements was not enough to warrant their rejection by the court.
The trial Judge stressed that under section 4 and 71 of the Evidence Act, the rule for admissibility of such statements is relevance.
“However, the probative value or weight to be attached to the statements will be determined by address of parties”, Justice Nyako held.
The court fixed October 13 and 22 for continuation of trial of the Defendants.
Justice Nyako directed that the Defendants should be granted access to their lawyers and medical facilities at the Suleja Correctional Center.
Other Defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2020, which was entered before the court on June 5 by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, are Auwalu Bala (aka Omo Razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu), Bashir Waziri (aka Baba runs); and Rayyanu Abdul.
Earlier on Wednesday, the fourth witness, PW-4, Inspector Samuel Habila, through whom the prosecution tendered six guns that were allegedly recovered from Wadume and his co-defendants, concluded his evidence and was discharged by the court.
The 5th witness, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Bawa James, told the court that he led the team of Police investigators that traveled to Taraba state to arrest Wadume’s younger brother, Uba Bala.
Wadume and his co-Defendants are answering to a 13-count amended criminal charge bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running
Though Wadume was arrested in 2019 over his alleged involvement in several kidnap incidents, he, however, escaped from custody on August 6, 2019, when gunmen attacked the team of policemen that arrested him.
Police alleged that he was assisted by Soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, led by one Capt. Tijjani Balarabe.
The incident resulted in the death of three policemen and two civilians, with five other police officers badly injured.
He was re-arrested 13 days later at his hideout in Kano State.
Vanguard News Nigeria