Notorious Taraba-based kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala Wadume, in this exclusive interview conducted by CHIOMA IGBOKWE opened up on his childhood, family, life of crime and deals with security agents. he spoke in Hausa.
Nigerians would want to hear from you, who really is Hamisu Bala Wadume?
I am 34 years old and married to four wives. I have only four children as two of my wives are yet to conceive. We are eight of us from my mother’s womb and my parents are dead. Due to financial constraint, I had to drop out of school after Junior Secondary School. I attended Government Secondary School, Ibi.
In Ibi, we are farmers and my father used to be a fisherman. Based on the experience I got when I normally followed him to the river, I started buying and selling fish. It is not easy to catch it by yourself because of the waves and for fear of dying, I decided to restrict myself and was only buying and selling fish. I used to make as much as N5, 000 on a daily basis. I did that for years till I gathered enough money to start my own fish pond.
I continued in that business till six years ago when my friend Babangida Musa introduced me to the business of buying and selling guns. He imports them from neighbouring countries and sell to me. I am a youth leader, so I have a strong relationship with a lot of bad boys that is why I knew that I would surely excel in the business.
I started buying only AK-47 rifles from him at the price of N400, 000 and sold them to my customers at the price of N750, 000. Some of my customers are Yakubu Yamaza and one Halilu. Yakubu buys them in large quantities because he normal sells the guns to Fulani bandits and others. He is one of my constant buyers.
Halilu is a notorious kidnapper and I preferred selling AK-47 rifles to him as a way to guarantee that he will not pick me up one day. In fact, his gang members almost got me but when I told them who I was, they released me. I cannot recall the number of AK-47 guns that I sold to him. I swear to God, I have never kidnapped anybody but I know a lot of them who are kidnappers. They normally buy AK-47 guns from me.
I was making so much money, so I decided to use the money to buy cars and motorcycles for commercial purpose. I am also a politician and a youth leader. I made so much money from politicians.
So, you are a politician. When did you join politics?
I politics about 10 years ago while I was a fish farmer. I was very active and that was why I was made the Sariki Matata (youth leader) of Ibi town. I started as a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and switched over in 2015 to All Progressives Congress (APC). In the 2019 election, APC won the presidential and joined senatorial election in Ibi town. During the governorship election, I switched over to PDP and assisted them to win. In politics, if you want to make money, one needs to join the winning team. I couldn’t get the ticket of PDP or APC to contest for State House of Assembly. Luckily, Young Democratic Party (YDP) accepted me but I still lost the election.
As a youth leader, money meant for the youth was given to me. I am to mobilize them, hire thugs where necessary and make arrangement for weapons that can be used to protect our people. There is a lot of killing in my state, so it’s wise to always protect yourself in-case of any attack. It was during 2015 and 2019 elections that I made so much money to acquire cars and houses.
What is your relationship with security agents especially Captain Balarabe Tijani?
As an influential person in the community, it is very important to have good relationship with security agencies. I normally visit them and give them money to assist them in fighting crime. I became popular amongst them because whenever I pass through any checkpoint, I will drop at least N20, 000. It was necessary so that no one will disturb my businesses.
When Captain Balarabe was posted to Ibi town seven months ago, I went to his office to greet and welcome him to Ibi. On my way out, I gave him N50, 000. We became friends and once in a while, I will send money to him. Weeks before this incident, he called me and said that they have patrol vehicles that are bad. I paid N200, 000 into his account to assist him. I also sent one ram to him as Sallah gift. I do not think that the Captain knows that I buy and sell AK-47 rifles. On the day I was rescued, I never knew he was the one that came to my rescue until I got to his house.
So, what really happened on the day you were rescued from the police?
On August 7 at about 6pm, I was in my house with some family and friends when policemen arrived and arrested me. Everyone was begging them, but they said that I am a kidnapper and handcuffed my legs and hands.
On our way, we passed through three checkpoints. The first was that of the army and after identification, they allowed us to go. The second one was that of mobile policemen and they also allowed us to continue. It was at the third checkpoint that we wasted a little time but they allowed us to go after the policemen convinced them that they were real.
Five minutes after we left that point, an army patrol vehicle started shooting at us. Our vehicle got hit and summersaulted severally. When we finally crashed and stopped, everybody was alive except for bullet wounds. The bullets hit part of my scrotum.
The soldiers quickly rescued me and took me to a red saloon car and we drove off immediately. Initially, I thought they were bandits dressed in military uniform and wanted to kidnap me. It was when we got to Captain Balarabe’s house that I knew that I wassafe.
The Captain was there and he called the DCO of Ibi Police Division, one ASP Aondona Lorbee. He came to the house and told the Captain that he could not find the key. They then brought an iron cutter and cut the handcuffs on my hands and legs.
I was outside when I saw the soldiers drive in with four dead men. They dropped them on the ground and I realized that these were the people who arrested me. I was shocked because they were all alive after the vehicle summersaulted.
Even the DCO saw the dead bodies and just looked at them and left the compound. While the dead bodies were still on the ground, I decided to find my way before anyone will know that I was there. One of the boys that I saw in the compound used his motorcycle to take me to the house of one of my friends, Saidu.
By then the news of my arrest and escape has spread everywhere. I immediately rented a speedboat and escaped to Tunga village in Nasarawa. I slept there and also used the opportunity to contact my family members. The ones in Ibi told me that soldiers came to the house to look for me, that they asked that I should not allow police to catch me. It was better for me to come to them first as they will guarantee my safety.
I refused to go back because I was already scared that they killed those policemen. I knew that if they catch me, I will be killed. I ran to my Uncle’s house in Kano. I went there because, he is related to my late mother and the house that he is living in belong to me. He only advised me to report myself to the police and stop running. I decided to stay away from the border because it’s guarded by the military and my face is now known by all.
It was my uncle who called a doctor to treat the bullet wound that affected my private part. It is possible that I cannot use it again because of the damage and I discovered that when I wake up in the morning, I no longer have erection.
While I was hiding, friends who knew where I was collected N3 million from me. They said that they were going to use it to pay journalists, so that they will be writing good report about me. It was when I was arrested, that I knew that they did not do anything. I was terrified when men in mufti broke into our house in Kano. I thought they were hired to kill me till I discovered they were policemen.
I did not ask soldiers to kill anyone. I was happy they rescued me, but I’m happier that police has rearrested me and I’m still alive.
Do you regret your criminal activities now?
I am not a kidnapper but I supply arms to different gangs. I make enough money as a businessman. I know that I have committed a crime selling guns; I am willing to change for good.
Credit : The Sun Newspaper.