The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre has accused the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, of shielding the soldiers involved in the release of Bala Hamisu, suspected kidnap kingpin better known as Wadume.
On August 6, 2019, some soldiers attached to 93 battalion Ibbi-Takum Road, led by Tijjani Balarabe, a captain with the Nigerian Army, attacked some policemen, who arrested Wadume.
Three policemen and two civilians were killed during the incident, while Wadume was set free.
After his rearrest, Wadume had confessed that some officers of the Nigerian Army assisted him to escape when he was initially arrested.
The office of the AGF later took over the case from the police but the soldiers were not brought to the court for trial.
RULAC in a statement by its Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said that nearly one year after the incident, Malami was still talking about allowing the army to court-marshal the culprits and conclude its internal process.
The statement reads, “On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Abubakar Malami, Nigeria's Attorney-General of the Federation, when confronted by state house correspondents after a federal executive council meeting at the presidential villa, over his reason for withdrawing from the charge sheet, names of army officers indicted for the murder of 3 IRT operatives and 2 civilians in Taraba on August 6, 2019, said it was not true that his office is shielding the indicted army officers.
“He said the authorities were only giving time to allow the established processes to be consummated. He said he withdrew the charges against the soldiers to allow the army to court-marshall them and conclude its internal process. He attempted some further clarifications to his defence which the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre considers woolly and absurd.
“The AGF's attempt to rationalise his action amounts to sheer sophistry; an unconvincing afterthought which fails to exculpate him from his scandalous attempt to shield murder suspects from justice, for whatsoever reason.
“Today, nearly one year after this tragic and scandalous incident, someone is still talking about 'allow(ing) the army to court-marshall them and conclude its internal process'. How long does a court martial or other so-called internal processes take? The truth is that the AGF found himself in an inescapable corner and had to willy nilly offer some excuse. Ab initio, he never appeared inclined- from his speech and body language- to allow the indicted army officers face trial.
“Why didn't the AGF offer this same lame excuse weeks before now in response to the public outrage and questions regarding his decision to remove the names of the indicted army officers from the charge sheet which the police filed before his office decided to take over prosecution? Why has the Chief of Army Staff not responded to the IGP's request on him, several months ago, to release the indicted army officers for trial?
“The only thing that will convince Nigerians that the AGF and the Chief of Army Staff are not in cahoots in a scheme to shield the indicted army officers from justice is for the Chief of Army Staff to recall the army officers from the various locations he posted them after the crime and release them for trial while the AGF immediately restores their names to the charge sheet and immediately arraign them, alongside their alies in crimes, for trial.”