Capt. Tijjani Balarabe
According to The PUNCH, a former Divisional Crime Officer in charge of the Ibbi Police Station, ASP Aondona Iorbee, who was arrested for involvement in the release of Taraba kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu, aka Wadume, has disclosed that Capt. Tijjani Balarabe was a close acquaintance of the principal suspect.
The ASP, who has been dismissed from service for aiding Wadume’s escape, also said Balarabe asked him for the key to remove the handcuffs on Wadume after the three policemen and two civilians were killed by the soldiers.
He stated these in his statement dated August 14, 2019, made to the Joint Investigation Panel set up by the Chief of Defence Staff.
Wadume was allegedly assisted to escape on August 6 by soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, led by Balarabe after the police team which arrested him came under attack from the troops.
The ex-DCO also said Balarabe asked him to deny seeing Wadume in handcuffs, adding that he put pressure on him on the issue.
Police investigation had indicated that Iorbee assisted in removing Wadume’s handcuffs. call logs also showed that the former DCO had over 200 phone calls with the kidnap kingpin.
Wadume had in his statement identified Iorbee and 10 soldiers as his accomplices. They are Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon and Corporal Markus Michael. Others are L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra, Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
The police had filed 16 counts against the soldiers and 10 other accomplices but the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), dropped the charges against the troops without explanation.
Iorbee stated, “On Thursday, August 7, 2019, around 05:30 hours, Capt. Balarabe called me with phone number, 07038589262 to tell me to deny seeing the suspect (Wadume) in handcuffs and one of his boys called me with phone number 08032207716, also asking me to deny that they asked me for handcuffs’ key.
“The captain called me back by 17:04 hours to tell me to switch off my phone which I declined. Wadume has never visited me in my lodge but he has been visiting the captain in his lodge and I have seen them together on a couple of occasions.
“Rumours have it that he bought the captain a red Mercedes Benz GLK 350 SUV which I have seen,” he added.
The ex-DCO further stated, “I never conspire with Balarabe to hide his (Wadume’s) assets such as cars; I am not on Wadume’s payroll but he gave me N20,000 when a friend asked him to give me a loan, but he said I should not bother repaying him.
“When I saw him in handcuffs, I called for the keys because the soldiers painted the picture that he was actually kidnapped.”