By Lateef Adewole
“Aféfé ti fé, a ti rí fùrò adìye” (The wind has blown and the anus of the chicken has been exposed). This could be used to describe the confession of the recently re-arrested kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala popularly known as Wadume, on Wednesday, 21st of August, 2019. He was routed from his hideout in Hotoro Layin Mai Allo, Nassarawa LGA, Kano.
In the past two weeks, the nation has been gripped with fear of consequential breakdown of law and order, due to the open disagreement and possible confrontation, between the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Army. It was that bad that a memo was said to have been issued from the Army HQ directing their personnel, who may be travelling across the country on pass, to do so in mufti, and not in uniform, for fear of reprisal attacks from the police.
This culminated from the unfortunate incident of the murder of some members of the IGP’s Response Team (IRT), by some soldiers on Ibi-Jalingo road, Taraba State, on 6th of August. This happened, while they were on their way to Jalingo, after they have successfully arrested Alhaji Hamisu Wadume from Ibi town. They were suddenly pursued by the soldiers, who opened fire on their vehicle, which led to the summersault of their vehicle.
The police hierarchy accused the soldiers of 93 Battalion, Takum, in Taraba state, of “deliberately” shooting the officers at close-range, despite that they identified themselves to them. This led to the death of three operatives and three civilians, who were said to be informants that assisted the team on the assignment. Some others sustained serious gun shot injuries too. This incident has been in a video which has since gone viral.
The worst part, which put the Army in bad light, was the disappearance of the arrested kingpin, who was said to be in hand and leg-cuffs. The soldiers who claimed to have responded to a distress call about a kidnapping incident, could not provide the supposed “victim” they came to rescue. This has resulted to open altercations between the Nigerian Army (NA) and the Nigerian Police, even on the social media.
While the NA tried to defend the action of their personnel, the police accused them of cover-up and asked them many questions which remained unanswered. A joint panel of enquiry consisting of the military and police personnel was set up to investigate the matter.
What miffed the police and the public more was the fact that, the slained officers were among the best in the police force, based on their past records. They were part of the team who arrested 22 Boko Haram members involved in Chibok girls’ kidnap, the arrest of notorious kidnapper in Lagos, Evans and the rescue of the district head of President Buhari’s village in Daura. It was a big loss to the police and Nigeria.
A nationwide manhunt for Wadume eventually led to his arrest. His immediate confession indicted the soldiers as complicit. His statements buttressed the claim by the police. The investigation is still ongoing.
Before then, the army officer who gave the order has been interrogated by the Army. His name is Captain Balarabe Tijjani. News making the rounds said he is a close ally of Wadume. So, when he was informed of his arrest, he ordered his subordinates to chase the vehicle conveying Wadume and rescue him. He was said to have moved him to their base, called the police DCO in the station for the keys to the cuffs. When that replied in negative, he then moved Wadume to his house, where he engaged a welder from town to cut off the handcuffs, before setting him free to run away.
We believe he should have been arrested by now, with the arrest and confession of Wadume who said he and many other security agents in the Ibi, Taraba and environ, are on his payroll. In fact, he said just paid a huge some of money to the Captain Balarabe’s account three weeks earlier. He also claimed to “settle” the security at every checkpoint with 20,000 naira, whenever he and his gang are on the move. We hope that all those involved in this dastardly act will be brought to book.
The preliminary investigation was also said to have revealed that the Wadume had about 196 phone exchanges with the Captain and over 200 with the police DCO in the police station in Ibi. These are indications of serious compromise and involvements by these officers. They are part of beneficiaries of Wadume’s generousity, after suddenly coming to wealth. He was said to be a petty dry fish trader in the village before he suddenly began to display opulence. He started “supporting” the people who then saw him as their “messiah”, without bothering about the source of his mysterious wealth. Typical of us in Nigeria.
A retired General who became a politician, was also said to be his close friend. He supported him in cash and kind through mobilisation. He himself was the candidate of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) who contested to represent Ibi constituency at the Taraba state house of assembly in 2019 general elections. He lost. Had it mean he belonged to the ruling party in the state, by now, he could have been making laws for the people of that state. A case of “lawbreaker-lawmaker”. That’s how low our polical space has gone.
That was how the story of the gory past of the late Temitope “Shuga”, a former member of the house of representatives from Ibadan, came to the fore, after he was killed during the last election. His criminal exploits while in Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta and his horrendous activities as political marksman to political bigwigs in Ogun and Oyo state, and up till his death, became public knowledge. And to say that was someone who has been in the Oyo state house of assembly as lawmaker. He proceeded to the national assembly as member of house of representatives. His last move was to be in the highest lawmaking office in Nigeria; the red chamber (senate).
How many “Wadumes” and “Shugas” are currently occupying positions of authority in different national institutions in Nigeria, whether as civilians or in the armed forces? They could be in executive, legislative, police, army, navy, airforce and other paramilitaries. They could be in civil service. This Wadume case has further exposed the rot in our national institutions and how criminalities have crept into them.
No wonder the security situation kept degenerating. Those involved have made an “industry” out of it, hence kept it going. We read how some soldiers stole 400 million naira belonging to their boss, while in transit to Abuja. From where did the boss get such money? Many believe it must have been proceeds from criminal activities they engage in their line of duty or stolen from the federal allocations meant to make provisions for the fighting troops.
Many other scenarios have played out, showing how the men in uniform, act in contradiction to their oaths of service and allegiance. The soldier who killed an okada man because of 100 naira bribe in Abia last week, the police SARS, who killed two arrested armed robbers extra-judicially on Tuesday, in public glare, and many other cases. All these are indictment on them. Fortunately, these two recent incidents mentioned above have been speedily dealt with by the respective authorities. That was commendable.
Going forward, there is need for us as a people, to reevaluate our value system. Only in Nigeria, will someone goes to sleep as a poor man, wakes up as a rich man, and the society will not question such mysterious wealth. Rather, he will become an important person who will be revered, offered chieftancy titles and put in the front roll in our worship centres and religious organisations, not minding where such money came from. Such a person will be celebrated.
Also, the kind of people to be recruited into our security agencies must be thoroughly screened. The situation where criminals are finding their ways into them should be prevented. Continous monitoring must also be done by the authorities, to ensure their personnel have not become compromised. This must be led by examples from the top down. Outcomes of the EFCC investigations into the activities of past leadership of some security agencies were disheartening. It exposed them to ridicule.
Our political system needs to be strengthened. The manner in which all kinds of characters sneak into power through the parties should be looked into. Situation where parties positions and tickets are for the highest bidders can only attract unscrupulous people, who will go to any length and do whatever it takes, to raise such money. Criminals will then high-jack the parties, and by extension, the emerging government. Imagine the amounts collected by the two major political parties (APC and PDP) for their parties’ tickets in 2019. Criminally outrageous!
People are the largest “police”. They see crimes, they know criminals, they need to speak up. Security agents are not magicians. They only work with and act on the information provide to them by the citizens. That is why the civilians killed in the Wadume saga must be celebrated along with the officers, if they are informants to the police. And their families should adequately compensated, to serve as encouragement and assurance to the rest of the public.
There must be stiff punishment for all the people who were involved in the incident. They must be made examples to the rest, to serve as deterrent to others, who might currently be doing similar things or nurturing such. This must also be the case in all infractions being committed by men in uniforms across the country. Enough is enough!
May God continue to guide us aright.
God Bless Nigeria.
Lateef Adewole is a political analyst and social commentator can be reached by email [email protected] or via WhatsApp +2348020989095