Residents of Jalingo have expressed mixed reactions following allegations by notorious kidnap kingpin Hamisu Bala (also known as Wadume), accusing Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku of having sponsored his criminal enterprise with six million naira.
In the course of interrogation at the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja, Hamisu had claimed that Governor Ishaku gave him two million naira at his hometown of Ibi and another four million naira when they met in Jalingo, the sate capital.
While some residents have expressed outrage over the Governor’s supposed involvement in a criminal conspiracy, others believe that, if true, the money was meant for political purposes and that the Governor could not have known that the suspect was a crime lord.
Governor Ishaku has meanwhile dismissed and denied the explosive allegations.
According to Alh. Imam Imam, a former member of the state House of Assembly, “it is only someone who does not know the Governor that would take the claims by Wadume seriously. How can the governor who has been having sleepless nights over the issue of insecurity in the state turn round to sponsor it?”
A former Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, Alh Abdulsalam Bashir, also dismissed the allegations as unfounded, adding that the state Governor “is too civilised and established to reduce himself to sponsoring criminals. What does he stand to gain from it, other than destabilizing his government? The allegations are dismissible,” he said.
However, the chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State, Barr. Ibrahim El-Sudi, said that the allegations by the suspect implicating the Governor was a clear vindication of the party’s earlier accusation that he had been conniving with criminals in the state, by empowering and arming them.
“The revelations by the suspected kidnap kingpin Hamisu is a clear testimony of what we were constantly accusing the governor of doing during the recent general election. Remember, we accused the governor of keeping so many criminals close to him. There is another one called Fuski; he enriched him with state resources. Thank God all we have said has come to the lime light. I even learnt that Fuski has been arrested. More investigation should be done by the IRT to unravel those behind the criminality in Taraba state,” El-Sudi said.
On a related note, Mr Joseph Pitila has called on the investigating agencies to dig deep into all the allegations made by the kidnap kingpin to unravel the extent of potential official involvement in criminal activities in the state.
“If the security agencies are culpable of connivance with criminals that they are meant to be fighting, it is little surprise that politicians in their desperation will do the same.”
Responding in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Habu, Governor Ishaku categorically denied knowing, meeting, being involvement with or giving money to Wadume, urging the public to “discard and disregard” the suspect’s claims.
The statement reads: “The attention of His Excellency, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, has been drawn to the claims by Hamisu Bala Wadume, a kidnap suspect currently under arrest, to the effect that he duped him (the Governor) of Six Million Naira during his inglorious reign as kidnapper.
“We wish to state categorically that Gov Ishaku was never a victim of Wadume’s duplicity and never lost money to his antics. We urge the general public to discard and disregard Wadume’s confessions on the alleged defrauding of Gov Ishaku as the rantings of a drowning criminal, as Gov Ishaku has never met the kidnap suspect and would not even recognize him if they were to meet today.”
Ishaku urged security agencies to expand their dragnet to all corners of the state where the accomplices of Wadume and other criminal gangs may still be hiding, to arrest and bring them to book.