Felix Adolije, a police officer who was part of the team sent to arrest of Hamisu Bala, a suspected kidnap kingpin better known as Wadume, has told a federal high court in Abuja how soldiers attacked the police vehicle in a bid to free the suspect.
Led in evidence by Magaji Labaran, prosecution counsel, the witness who is an assistant superintendent of police said they received a petition saying that some unidentified men demanded a N200m ransom from relatives of their victim.
He said after analysing four phone numbers with which the suspects used in making the demand, the team identified one Bashir, a “soft target” in Taraba, who in turn led them to Wadume in Ibbi on August 6, 2019.
Adolije said on arrival in Taraba, his team made up of six policemen, went to the police headquarters to brief the state commissioner of police about their mission.
In turn, they received a letter of introduction to the area command in Wukare where their arrival was documented.
“The pointer was with us and he led us to the street where the main target lived,” Adolije said.
“On getting there, he pointed to the main target from inside the bus. So I came down with inspector Sani in our complete uniforms without our cap and jacket. I asked Sani to remain standing by the bus.
“I brought my identity card out. I realised that the target was with 10 boys lying down on the mat. I showed him my identity card. I told him we were policemen from Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in Abuja.
“I told him that there was a case we were investigating and that his attention was needed in Abuja. Neither he nor any of his boys asked any question. Quietly, he got up and followed me to our bus.
“I asked him to follow us and he followed us. There was no argument between us and anybody. We entered the bus. I asked one of my boys inside the bus to restrain him. Then we drove back to the police station.”
Narrating further, the witness said trouble started after they left the police station heading back to Abuja with the suspect.
“As we were going back, we got to the last army checkpoint which we encountered when we were coming in,” he said.
“The checkpoint was the first as we were going out. They (the soldiers) asked us to stop. They saw us in uniforms. Then, one of the soldiers asked us where we were coming from.
“We told him we were the ones whom they passed about 30 minutes earlier. Then one of them asked us if we did not know that the person in our vehicle was a very influential person in the town.
“I already alighted when he asked me that question. I said I didn’t know who even told him that we had made an arrest and I told him, ‘please we are still going far, allow us to go’. Then he reluctantly removed the barrier to allow us to go.
“On getting to the second checkpoint mounted by the mobile policemen, they only asked us if we were through. And we said yes.
“Then we headed towards the last one mounted by soldiers. As we were in between the mobile policemen’s checkpoint and that of the soldiers’ ahead, I saw a Sharon bus with full light.”
Adolije said they had barely gone past the barrier when shots were fired at their vehicle.
“I saw an army Hilux with a gun mounted on top, overtake the Sharon bus. The soldiers started firing,” he narrated.
“Then our bus started staggering and somersaulted three times. I was seated with the driver in front. He fell to my side. Then I struggled, by the grace of God, and came out of the vehicle.
“I left my AK-47 and pistol inside the vehicle. I started running. There were heaps of yam on the other side of the road.”
The witness said he quickly removed his uniform after he managed to scamper to a tree for safety. He said he also saw another colleague, Emmanuel, who also had taken off his uniform.
According to him, it was around 7.30 pm and they had to pass the night under the tree.
The next day, Adolije said they found their way to the main road between 5.30am and 6am where they sought help from a motorcyclist who led them to the nearest village.
“Immediately we got to the village, he (the motorcyclist) started speaking their language. All their youths and men started coming towards us with cutlasses saying we were the kidnappers of yesterday,” he recounted.
“That was where I received the highest beating of my life. When they were beating me, I held on to my identity card telling them that we were policemen from Abuja.”
He said the youth leader in the village rescued him and his colleague from the mob and took them where some mobile policemen were.
“The mobile policemen called the area command which brought a patrol vehicle and conveyed us to General Hospital, Wukare.”
Adolije thanked God for spearing his life to enable him recall all that transpired.
Wadume alongside six others are standing trial on 12 counts of terrorism.
The other defendants are Aliyu Dadje (a police inspector), Auwalu Bala (aka omo razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) Bashir Wazlri (aka baba runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.