Nigerian 'kidnap kingpin' rearrested after escape

Hamisu Bala Wadume

A suspected Nigerian “kidnap kingpin”, who escaped in a shootout between the army and police, has been rearrested.

Police say Hamisu Bala Wadume was tracked down after a “massive manhunt” to a hideout the northern state of Kano.

Two weeks ago in north-eastern Taraba state, three officers and a civilian were shot dead by soldiers who attacked a police unit transporting him to the regional police headquarters.

At the time, the army said the soldiers believed that kidnappers, not police officers, were in the vehicle.

In a video tweeted by the police on Tuesday, Mr Wadume admits in Hausa that the soldiers helped him escape by cutting off his handcuffs.

Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper quotes him as saying:

Quote Message: Policemen came to Ibi and arrested me. They were taking me away, when soldiers shot at their vehicles. Some policemen lost their lives in the process. Then they [the soldiers] took me to their military headquarters and cut my handcuffs. Since then I have been hiding before the police re-arrested me.”

Mr Wadume has been on the police’s wanted list for several high-profile kidnap cases that include a recent abduction where a ransom of about $275,293 (£226,478) was paid.

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The circumstances of his escape from custody have infuriated the police force, which has made no secret of its anger on its Twitter account.

On Tuesday, the police retweeted a demand for answers from the military:

Nigeria Police Force
View image on Twitter

It highlights the fractious relationship between Nigeria’s security agencies as they fight Islamist insurgents in the north-east, confront deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen and rampant kidnappings nationwide.

President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a panel to investigate the shooting.