Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshal, Alex Badeh (retd), may have been buried, but operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response team, who have been investigating the circumstances surrounding his death, have resolutely refused to close the case file.
The relentlessness of the policemen paid off as four more suspects have been arrested in connection with the death of Badeh.
These suspects, since their arrest, had been singing like birds, detailing roles each of them played in the operation.
The latest additions are Yahaya, Alhaji Maube, Aliyu Usman, aka Ciroma and Ibrahim Abdulahi.
The first person arrested was Shuiabu Rabo. The total number of suspects in IRT’s custody is five.
Although Rabo has been accused by the police of pulling the trigger that killed Badeh, he has refused to accept it, insisting that he and two others opened fire simultaneously on Badeh’s convoy. He explained that it was difficult to know whose bullets actually killed the ex-chief of defence staff.
The confessions of how three of the suspects opened fire on Badeh is even doubtful. Judging from their confessions, there was absolutely no reason to open fire. This manner of operation contradicts modus operandi of professional robbers. Most robbers usually flag down vehicles to rob occupants. They don’t jump into the road to open fire on target vehicles without any provocation.
Ciroma (35), who assembled the gang of robbers that went for the operation, said he was contacted by Maube.
Ciroma said: “I don’t know who fired the shot that killed the man. Three persons fired at the same time. But after the shooting, I went to the victim’s car, opened it and found money. I gave the money to Ibrahim Abdulahi and asked him to give it to Maube. It was the following day that we got to know that the man we killed was a four star general. I don’t know how much was in the bag; but we handed the bag and its content to Maube.”
Badeh may not have known it, but his journey to the grave started after Maube found out that he was about to pay for a farmland. It was alleged that Maube was the middleman, who linked Badeh to the owner of the farm.
On the day Badeh was to pay for the farmland, Maube and gang surprised him and his convoy. Badeh was killed along Keffi-Kaduna Expressway.
Two months into his murder, police authorities said Badeh was killed with a Dane gun. The police said that Maube is not just an informant to the gang of robbers, but also the mastermind of the entire operation.
IRT operatives had on December, 23, 2018 through a tip-off arrested the first suspect, Rabo. Rabo was alleged to have fired the shot that killed Badeh. Rabo, while fielding questions from the operatives, confessed that Ciroma invited him and his brother Yahaya for the operation.
Rabo further explained that Ciroma, who brought three of the guns used in the operation, including the Dane gun used in killing Badeh, didn’t tell him that their target was a former CDS.
Rabo said: “Ciroma told me that the target was coming to Panda area of Nassarawa State with a huge amount of money. He said that the target intended to buy a farmland within that area.”
After Badeh was killed, one of his friends, Joseph, was kidnapped. IRT operatives, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, were deployed to Nassarawa State to investigate the circumstances surrounding the abduction and murder. Joseph was later released by his abductors. It was during that initial investigation that Rabo was arrested. He was arrested through information given by some Fulani businessmen.
Rabo was later used as bait to catch Ciroma, Maube, Yahaya and Abdulahi.
A police source said: “After the arrest of the four additional suspects, it was discovered that Maube was the middle-man between Badeh and the owner of the farmland. Maube contracted Ciroma for the operation. Maube brought two AK-47 rifles; Ciroman brought three rifles, including the Dane gun. Ciroma gave the Dane gun to Shuiabu. When Badeh’s corpse was examined, pellets from the Dane gun were extracted from his body.”
Recalling how he organised the operation, Ciroma said: “One day, I went to meet Maube. He lives at Kare, close to Panda area of Nasarawa State. He told me that there was a rich man, who owns a farm in his area. He said that he needed some boys that would rob the man.
“I contacted Shuiabu, who I had earlier met in Gitata Market. I told him about the plan and he responded that he was interested. Shuiabu brought in his brother, Yahaya. I collected their phone numbers. Three days later, Maube called; he said that the rich man was in his farm, that I should alert my boys. I stopped at Bade area of Kaduna State, from where I called Shuiabu. I told him that rich man was on ground. Shuiabu brought two persons, Yahaya and Baso. They came to meet me at Gitata. When Maube called me again, it was to tell me that the rich man had left his farm and was driving through Panda Road.
“Maube called a cyclist, Abdulahi, and asked him to tail the rich man’s car. I and six others waited for the target at Zomgo area of the state. Abdulahi brought two guns to us. He pointed to the vehicle; we came outside and waylaid it. We used four Ak-47 rifles in that operation. I brought two Ak-47 rifles and a single barrel Dane gun. I got one of the Ak-47 rifles from a friend, Rontumi and Rugumi. The Dane gun belonged to me. We entered the road and blocked the rich man’s convoy.”
Ciroma, who is married to two wives and blessed with eight children, related how he was arrested. His words: “I’m a taxi driver. I used to ply Kaduna Keffi Expressway. I make N4000 daily. I reside in Gajio. On 24 December 2018, around 5pm, I was at Panda Market, waiting for passengers, when a bus blocked me; policemen jumped out and dragged me into the bus. I saw Shuiabu inside the bus. I was handcuffed and taken to Keffi Area Command in Nasarawa State. I was asked if I was part of the gang that blocked, killed and robbed Badeh, I said no. When I was moved to Abuja, I had no option than to confess.”
Abdulahi, 26, said that he had no knowledge that Maube was planning a robbery operation when he called him to take on his motorcycle to Gitata in December. Abdulahi, a farmer, said that he does commercial cycling to make extra money.
He recalled that Maube called him on a Tuesday in December. Maube asked Abdulahi to take him to Panda area of Nasarawa. Abdulahi narrated: “When we got to his shop, he asked me to stop. He went into his shop and brought a bag. I don’t know what was in the bag. He asked me to take the bag to Gitata and hand it over to Ciroma. I went there and stopped at Buritai’s farm; Ciroma and Shuiabu came out to meet me. They collected the bag from him after which they asked me to wait nearby. I went to the back of Buritai’s farm and waited. Some minutes later, I heard gunshots. Ciroma called me to come and collect the bag, which I brought earlier. He handed another bag to me; this particular bag contained money. He asked me to give the bag to Muabe.”
Rabo, 25, said he wasn’t aware that the bullets from his gun were what killed the victim. He apparently was not happy that the police were trying to pin the killing on him, when they were actually three of them that opened fire on Badeh’s convoy at the same time.
He said: “I wasn’t the only person that shot at the General’s convoy during the attack. What happened was that before last year’s Christmas, I went to market, where I met Ciroma. He told me that there was a rich man, who has a farm in Panda. He said that the man was coming to buy another farm within the area. He wanted us to rob the rich man when he comes to pay for the farmland.
“That was on a Friday; Ciroma told me that the man was coming on a Tuesday to pay for the land. On that Tuesday, I went to my own farm and told my friends and Yahaya about the operation. We called Ciroma to know if the job was still on; he asked us to come. When we met Ciroma, he gave me a Dane gun. But I saw five guns with him. He gave them to the other people with us. When the operation started, Yahaya was on my right, with a stick and I was in the front. But Ciroma and the other guys were ahead of us. When the vehicle carrying the man and the money came, those in front started shooting. At that point, I couldn’t tell who killed the man. When we got to the vehicle, Ciroma brought out a bag from the vehicle. He gave me N25, 000 and promised to call me when the money was ripe for sharing. I didn’t know that the rich man was killed by bullets from my Dane gun I used in the operation.”