Hamisu Bala, popularly referred to as ‘Wadume‘ is notorious kidnap kingpin in Taraba, a North-Eastern Nigerian state and the third-largest state in Nigeria by landmass.
Wadume is a petty fish trader, painter, politician, polygamist with many children and a philanthropist. His wealth status might be exaggerated because of his generosity and profligate spending. He was reclusive until the last two years. His wealth, allegedly through kidnapping shot him into ‘prominence’.
Wadume was at the center of a disagreement between the Army and the Police following soldiers killing of three policemen and a civilian who were on an anti-kidnapping mission in Taraba State on the 8th of August, 2019.
The incident is under probe following a public outcry by the Nigerian Police Force who accused the Nigerian Army of shielding the kidnap kingpin, Wadume.
Profile of Hamisu Bala (Wadume)
Wadume’s real name is Hamisu Bala. His nickname is “Why Do You Mean?”, which many mistake for “Wadume.” He is a Hausa man whose great grand father migrated from Katsina state. He was born and brought up in Ibi local government area of Taraba State. His late father, Bala, was Hausa, while his mother was Tiv, from Ukum local government area of Benue state.
He holds a secondary school certificate, having attended the Government Secondary School (GSS) Ibi. It was gathered that he was “not a brilliant” Arts student. He completed secondary school in 2004 and did not proceed to any tertiary institution.
Bala, 35, suddenly became so rich that many believe he made it through ‘ritual’, a vodoo common in Africa that grants sudden wealth. His posh residence in Ibi was built only last year. Before then, he was a petty trader who specialized in buying and selling fish in Ibi.
He was not even a big trader; he could only afford to buy only one or most of the time, half a basket of fish to sell at retail prices.
Bala was a painter who had a partnership with his brother.
During the 2019 polls, he aspired to become a House of Assembly member, representing Ibi Constituency, on the platform of the Young Democratic Party (YDP). But, he did not make it. After making money, Bala started living the life of a philanthropist.
He reportedly built houses for his friends and donated hundreds of motorcycles and cars to young men and women, since 2017. He is also believed to be generous to security agents.
Sometimes Wadume (alleged kidnapper) goes to tea sellers and settles the bills of tea drinkers. Then, he gives N10,000 each to the people, according to a source who spoke to a national print media. Two of his wives have been under house arrest. His other two wives are in Mecca on pilgrimage, it was learnt.
How Wadume was first arrested in Taraba
So, how did police know Wadume was a big-time kidnapper to the extent of apprehending him? One of Bala’s accomplices, known as Kwarba, was apprehended by the police in Jalingo, over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a Permanent Secretary.
During interrogation, Kwarba revealed that Bala (Wadume) was their leader. The police then allowed Kwarba further communication with Bala on the phone for over three days, as though he was not in detention. Based on their communication, the police were able to gather useful information.
It was during one of their conversations on the phone that Bala disclosed that he was coming to Ibi for Eid-el Kabir celebration. On arrival in Ibi, Bala phoned Kwarba to inform him.
Operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) embarked on the journey. They got to the police headquarters in Jalingo, before proceeding to Ibi, in a white Toyota Hummer Bus marked, LAGOS: MUS-564EU.
They were in mufti and carried Kwarba along so that he could identify Bala. They met Bala at a coffee joint, at the junction to Government Lodge. Kwarba eventually identified him.
To pull the wool over the kidnapper’s eyes, the policemen in disguise went out and told him they brought a bus for sale. Bala sought to know the cost of the vehicle so that he could buy it, but the policemen suggested they would step aside for bargaining. It was when he (Bala) got into the bus that the policemen told him they were there to arrest him, after handcuffing and chaining his legs.
How Soldiers Killed Policemen sent to arrest Wadume
After arresting the suspect, the operatives drove into Ibi town briefly and began to drive carefully out of the town. But while passing the coffee joint, (where Bala was picked) the suspected kidnapper forced his head out of the vehicle and shouted: “I have been kidnapped by these people.”
Soon, the news spread and some of Bala’s ‘boys’ began to chase the vehicle on motorbikes. The operatives had passed the first and second checkpoints of the Nigerian Army, with only one checkpoint left to pass through.
Bala’s accomplices then called the military checkpoint where the bus was ambushed. They opened fire on the bus conveying the operatives and suspected kidnapper. The bus somersaulted into the bush, following the barrage of gunfire, as the driver lost control of the wheel.
A source revealed that, after the killing of the three policemen and the civilian, Bala, who was handcuffed and chained in the legs, crawled and took refuge in the home of an old Jukun woman.
The following day, he called his army captain friend who came with three of his ‘boys’ in a red Toyota Corolla. The army captain was alleged to have cut the chains on Wadume in order to free him. Bala was later taken to his home in Ibi in the same red Toyota Corrola.
On getting back to Ibi, his neighbours and Ibi residents went into jubilation. It was gathered that while the jubilation was on, Bala sneaked out of town. He has not been seen since then.
After the news of the three killed policemen went viral, the Nigerian Police Force launched a manhunt for Wadume for days and was eventually apprehended on the 20th of August, 2019, in his hideout at Layin Mai Allo Hotoro area of Kano State. Below is a picture of Wadume upon his rearrest.