The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has been accused for dropping the names of 10 soldiers named as accomplices in the kidnapping charges involving an alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin, Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume, and others.
The accusation was brought by the pan-Yoruba social cultural group, Afenifere; lawyers and activists on Monday. They demanded an explanation from the AGF.
The amendment to the charges announced at the Federal High Court in Abuja by the prosecuting counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, on Monday, came days after the AGF took over the case from the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, on June 3, 2020.
Labaran cited the “bureaucracy” involved in bringing the soldiers to court and the need to allow the case to begin as the reason for the amendment on Monday.
The development saw the number of defendants reducing from 20 to seven and the number of counts dropping from 16 to 13.
The soldiers, whose names were removed in the amended charges are Captain Tijjani Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Markus Michael; L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra; Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
Names of a policeman, ASP Aondona Iorbee, and one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball), were also struck off the charge.
The defence lawyers for the remaining defendants did not oppose the amendment on Monday.
Following the approval of the amendment by Justice Binta Nyako, the amended 13 counts were read to the remaining seven defendants who pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The remaining defendants arraigned were Inspector Aliyu Dadje, who was a station officer at police headquarters in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State, Wadume, Auwalu Bala, aka Omo Razor, Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu); Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); Hafizu Bala (aka Maiwelder); and Rayyanu Abdul.
Reacting to the removal of the names of the soldiers’ from the charges, spokesperson for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, noted that the development appeared to be a proof of a comment by a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), that there was collusion between criminals and security agents.
“When Gen. T.Y. Danjuma said there was collusion between criminals and security agents, this is clear evidence he knew what he was saying.
“It is a tragedy for any polity where the people don’t know whom to run faster from between criminals and security agents. This must be a serious challenge for the top brass.”
Also, reacting to the removal of the soldiers’ names from the charge sheet, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said except there was plan by the military to try them separately before a court martial, there was no justification for the removal of their names” Yinka Odumakin said.
The SAN, however, said government should be given benefit of the doubt, as there might be a move to court-martial the soldiers.