Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to release 10 army officers for an ongoing criminal prosecution.
The 10 officers have been charged alongside the suspected kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, popularly called Wadume.
The said soldiers are Tijjani Balarabe, David Isaiah, Ibrahim Mohammed, Bartholomew Obanye, Mohammed Nura, Okorozie Gideon, Markus Michael, Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra, Abdullahi Adamu, and Ebele Emmanuel.
Justice Nyako made the order for the soldiers to be produced, after the prosecuting lawyer, Simon Lough, told the court that the army authorities ‘snubbed’ the letter by the police requesting the 10 defendants to be produced for arraignment.
Mr Lough is the lawyer prosecuting the 20 defendants on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police.
He had told the court that the police authorities had written the Chief of Army Staff asking for the soldiers since January 2020 but that they failed to comply.
The prosecution added that, “Sections 89 and 159 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act(ACJA) 2015, empower my lord to compel the Chief of Army Staff to produce the 2nd to the 11th defendants for prosecution.
“On the basis of the provisions, we, therefore, urge my lord to issue an order to the Chief of Army Staff to produce the defendants for arraignment.”
The defence lawyers including Ishaka Dikko and Mathew Burkaa expressed concerns over the long detention of their clients since August 2019.
But the judge said the lawyer’s concerns could only be addressed after the defendants’ arraignment.
Ruling on the prosecution’s request on Monday, Justice Nyako said, “The Chief of Army Staff or whoever custody the 2nd to the 11th defendants are held, is hereby ordered to produce them on March 30, 2020, for the purpose of arraignment.”
Apart from the 10 soldiers, the other 10 defendants, including Mr Wadume, two police officers and others, were produced in court by the police on Monday.
The other 10 defendants are Mr Wadume, Aondona Iorbee, and Aliyu Dadje; Hafizu Bala (aka Maiwelder); Auwalu Bala aka Omo Razor; Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu); Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball); Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); and Rayyanu Abdul.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had on February 3, filed a 16-count charge against the 20 defendants.
The charge borders on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running.
Mr Wadume was the ‘high profile’ kidnapping suspect arrested by the police on August 6.
He was being driven to Jalingo by the police team when soldiers opened fire on them along Ibi-Wukari Road, killing three police officers and a civilian.