Investigations into the killing of three policemen in Taraba State has revealled that the Nigerian Army captain who allegedly ordered the release of Hamisu Bala, popularly called Wadume, exchanged 191 phone conversations with the kidnap kingpin.

The Army captain allegedly ordered soldiers on security check-point along the Ibi-Jalingo expressway in Taraba State, to attack and kill police operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT).

According to Vanguard, the telephone conversations between the kidnap kingpin, Wadume and the captain were within the space of one month between July 9, 2019 and August 6, 2019.

The source explained that the police authorities believed that the army captain might have been providing cover for the kidnapper, who is said to have received hundreds of millions as ransom from his victims.

It was gathered that the Army Captain, who is currently undergoing interrogation at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, was arrested alongside five other Army personnel, who were alleged to have taken part in the killing of three policemen and their two civilian agents in an operation to arrest a notorious kidnapper, Wadume, in Ibi area of Taraba State.

“The arrested solders confessed that they received orders to attack the policemen from the captain, whom they said informed them that Wadume had been kidnapped and was being transported in a silver-coloured Toyota Hiace Bus,” the report said.

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A source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, reportedly said the soldiers claimed that they acted squarely on the orders of the captain, being their superior officer.

But, police sources at Force Headquarters Abuja, disclosed that the police authorities have established strong links between the army captain and the notorious kidnapper, alleging that “the army captain was on the kidnapper’s payroll”.

The source maintained that its investigations have also revealed that the army captain, who was not present in Ibi town at the time the IRT operatives arrested Wadume, might have ordered his men to attack and kill the IRT operatives as well as rescue “his friend”, the kidnapper.

The Manhunt for Wadume

The IRT’s manhunt to arrest and bring down Wadume’s kidnapping empire began in March 2019, when it received a petition from one Sheriff Umar of Kirikinua South Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The petitioner reported that his cousin, Usman Mayo, was kidnapped on February 15, 2019, at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and his kidnapper demanded the sum of N200 million as ransom for his release.

The source explained that the family of the kidnapped victim negotiated and paid the sum of N85 million first, on March 11, 2019, but the abductee was not released.

He said they paid an additional N15 million, on March 16, 2019, making a total sum paid to the kidnappers N100 million and the kidnappers refused to release their victim  insisting that that the family must pay the N200 million they demanded.

The source explained that the family reported to the police and the IRT was drafted to investigate and track down the suspects behind the kidnapping and rescue the victim.

It was learnt that while investigations into the matter commenced, members of the kidnapped victim’s family paid an additional N20m to the kidnappers and the victim was released,  but the police discovered during investigations that Wadume had strong links to the kidnappers, who got N120 million as ransom from their victim.