The trial of the alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, otherwise known as Wadume, resumed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday.
The fifth prosecution witness, Bala James, an Assistant Superintendent of Police who earlier testified on July 15, 2020, was cross-examined by some of the defence lawyers at yesterday’s proceedings.
The judge, Justice Binta Nyako, thereafter adjourned the case till October 22 for the prosecution to present its sixth witness.
Wadume and six others are being prosecuted on 13 counts of kidnapping, escape from custody, gunrunning, detention of kidnap victim Usman Garba, and collection of ransom of N106million from the victim before releasing him.
Apart from Wadume, the rest of the defendants are, Inspector Aliyu Dadje, who was a station officer at police headquarters in Ibi, Auwalu Bala, aka Omo Razor, Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu); Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba Runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); and Rayyanu Abdul.
Wadume was first arrested in Ibi, Taraba State, by members of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of Police on August 6, 2019, before soldiers led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe aided his escape from the custody of the policemen conveying him to Abuja.
The Captain Balarabe-led troops attached to the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba State, had allegedly shot at the policemen who were conveying Wadume to Abuja shortly after arresting the prime suspect in Ibi, Taraba State on August 6, 2019.
The soldiers were said to have killed three policemen and two civilians while five others were wounded in the attack aimed at freeing Wadume from police custody.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr, Abubakar Malami (SAN), removed the names of the soldiers as defendants from the case within days of taking over the case from the police in July, 2020.
Earlier testifying as the fourth prosecution witness in the case, a member of the IRT of the IGP office, Inspector Samuel Habila, said Wadume escaped with gunshot wounds to Kano after soldiers aided his escape from the police on August 6, 2019.
He said the kidnap suspect was rearrested in an investigation-led operation at his uncle, Rayyanu Abdul’s place in Kano on August 20, 2019.
He also said that some of the defendants carted away the AK-47 rifles belonging to the policemen after the Balarabe-led troops shot at them.
He said one of the guns was later handed over to Balarabe by one of the defendants.
At the previous proceeding on July 15, 2020, the fifth prosecution witness, James, testified on the roles played by each of the seven defendants in the case.
Under cross-examination by Wadume’s lawyer, Ishiaka Dikko (SAN), yesterday, James said he did not visit any other place apart from Wukaro and Ibi in Taraba State in respect of the investigation of the case.
Aside two of the defence lawyers, the other four defence lawyers asked one question each.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Labaran Magaji, then asked for an adjournment of the case to enable him to present the sixth prosecuting witness.
The judge then adjourned the case till October 22.
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
PH Airport Seals Two Banks, Other Business Outfits
The authorities of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, have sealed up the premises of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) at the airport, over non payment of rent.
Also sealed by the airport authorities are the Stanbic Bank and the Genesis fast food, among other business outfits.
The business concerns at the airport, otherwise known as concessionaires, were sealed last Monday.
The Tide, however, observed that some of the sealed business concerns, including the Stanbic Bank and Genesis fast food, have reopened to costumers as at the time of filing this report.
Speaking to The Tide on the issue last Tuesday in his office, the Head of Corporate Affairs at the airport, Mr Kunle Akinbode, said the affected business outfits at the airport were owing the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
According to him, FAAN has not been proactive in the area of debt collection, adding that most of the concessionaires look at FAAN as a government business.
He said that there had been instances where some corporate bodies owed FAAN, including some airlines, only for them to liquidate and run away without payment.
“Now, FAAN has decided to wake up to its responsibilities, maybe because of the pressure from Covid-19.
“Genesis fast food was owing us like others, but immediately the issue came up, they paid part of their debt.
“Task force from the headquarters had been going around all the airports owned by FAAN, and Genesis had paid, I think, about N5 million out of the N15 million they were owing.
“Even though the task force initially refused, saying such amount was small, but a term of payment was agreed on how to offset the debt instalmentally.
“Even the Stanbic Bank responded as the Genesis did, and they were later allowed to operate, and all these are yearly rent accumulation, as obtained in other airports around the world.
“The UBA is owing us so much and the commercial department has the record, and that was why the haste for sealing up their premises.
“If they had paid and FAAN sealed up their premises, the onus is on them to prove that they have paid and everyone pay based on the space they are occupying”, Akinbode said.
Meanwhile, one of the senior officers of the UBA, told The Tide at the airport under the condition of anonymity that they were working and consulting with FAAN towards settling the issue.
He said that UBA had paid up till 2019, but that the increase in the rent was responsible for the delay in payment.
By: Corlins Walter
#EndSARS Protests: NESG Postpones Summit Indefinitely
The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) has announced indefinite postponement of its 26th summit which was scheduled to hold next week between October 26 and 27.
A statement from the Board of Directors of NESG yesterday said that the postponement was necessitated by prevailing circumstances in the country.
According to the statement, the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit is a big conversation for action with the theme, ‘Building Partnerships for Resilience’ to focus on key national issues especially as we continue to manage the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on Nigeria’s economy.
In the past years, deliberations and outcomes of the summit drove a national discourse.
But holding this year’s Summit from October 26 to 27 without taking adequate cognizance of recent developments across the country that have accentuated the need to amplify the voices of our youth for the reform of our institutions and improve governance will be insensitive and inappropriate.
It is against this background that, after due consultation between the NESG and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning as co-hosts of the Summit, the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit has been postponed.
While regretting the inconveniences to resource persons, participants, sponsors, the media, vendors, and the public, NESG said a new date would be announced in due course.
The group commiserated with the nation and victims of recent violence across the country and urged the federal government to kick start a comprehensive reform of security institutions, while pledging support to the authorities in resolving contending issues.
“The NESG will deploy its convening and engagement capabilities to serve as a platform for driving issues affecting the Nigerian youth and ensure improved collaboration between our stakeholders, the group said.
“Finally, the NESG wishes to state that strong and transparent institutions determine the resilience of our economy and the effectiveness of our social justice system,” the group said.
NESG noted that participation and effective engagement of our youth is crucial to the development and operation of the nation’s institutions, saying “this is the only way to achieve the Nigeria of our dreams.’’
FG Calls For Cooperation Against Illegal Trans-Border Trade
The Federal Government has called for collaboration of West African leaders in monitoring and halting illegal trans-border trade of solid minerals within the sub-region.
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, made the call in a statement issued by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations Unit of the ministry, Mr Tine Iulun in Abuja, yesterday.
Ogah, speaking at the opening ceremony of Ouaga Dore, Gold West Africa event in Burkina Faso, said the collaboration became imperative to curb illegal exploitation and transaction of minerals in the sub-region.
“For the sub-region to properly harness the economic benefits of its abundant mineral resources, efforts must be made to curb illegal exploitation and transaction of minerals,” he said.
He emphasised the need for sustainable peace and security in the sub-region to enable it leverage and harness the gold value chain for industrialisation, wealth and job creation for the youths.
The minister commended the Burkinabe government for putting in place the right policies, which had increased its investment in the mining sector.
He said that the policy had also led to the development of the country’s artisanal and small-scale gold production, as attested by the event.
“The country has made a quantum leap in the development of its artisanal and small-scale gold production and today’s presentation of refined gold bar medallions speaks volume to the international investors.
“The Gold festival which featured the presentation of Gold bars, sourced mainly from artisanal operators in the country, has a significant bold step in developing the gold and mining value chain and deepening integration across West African economic corridor.”
The Minister appreciated the valuable contribution of Burkina Faso’s mining partners, like Messrs. Kian Smith, for their efforts leading to the remarkable milestone recorded by the country.
Earlier, the Minister of Mining and Quarries in Burkina Faso, Mr Oumarou Idani had said that his country is endowed with gold and manganese which were the chief sources of the country’s revenue generation.
According to Idani, Burkina Faso is working to attract investors as well as support and promote the production of gold jeweleries for export within and outside Africa.
The Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Mr. Zachariah Ifu, said that the Nigerian Embassy was looking at areas of collaboration that would facilitate bilateral transactions between the two countries in the solid minerals sector.
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