The suspected Taraba kidnap kingpin is a petty fish trader, painter, politician, polygamist with many children and a philanthropist.
His wealth status might have been 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’.
He is 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.
The incident is under probe following public outcry.
Who is he? His name is Hamisu Bala. His nickname is “Why Do You Mean?”, which many mistakes for “Wadume.” He is a Hausa man whose great grandfather 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,” one of his classmates told The Nation.
Bala, 35, suddenly became so rich that many believe he made it through ‘ritual’. 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,” a source, who knows him well, said.
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 has been living the life of a philanthropist.
In the last two years, he reportedly built houses for his friends and donated hundreds of motorcycles and cars to young men and women. He is also believed to be generous to security agents.
“Sometimes he (alleged kidnapper) goes to tea sellers and settles the bills of tea drinkers. Then, he gives N10,000 each to the people,” a source in Ibi said.
Two of his wives have been under house arrest. His other two wives are in Mecca on pilgrimage, it was learnt.
So, how did police know Bala 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 was their leader. The police then allowed Kwarba to be communicating 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 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.
After arresting the suspect, the operatives drove into Ibi town briefly and began to drive carefully out of the town.
According to Elombah news, 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, with only one remaining to pass.