Not much was known about Tijjani Balarabe, a captain with the Nigerian army, until the news broke of how he ordered the killing of some of the policemen who had gone to arrest Bala Hamisu, a kidnap suspect better known as Wadume.
Balarabe, operation commander of the troops who shot the policemen, is alleged to have had 191 phone conversations with Wadume, and police authorities are said to also believe he was on the suspect’s payroll.
In a report by Daily Trust, the captain who joined the army in 1993 was about setting up a bakery in Jos, Plateau state where he grew up.
The newspaper reported that Balarabe had completed a two bedroom apartment he built next to his father’s house in Tudun Fera/Congo Russia area, and he was building a bakery in another part of the town.
“He was on the verge of importing some modern equipment to kick-start production when this saga erupted,” a source was quoted to have said.
The incident led to a clash between the police and the army who claimed that its soldiers mistook the policemen for kidnappers.
Wadume who was re-arrested at a hideout in Kano state is said to have been benevolent to soldiers in the area where the policemen were killed. He had said the soldiers rescued him from the police, cut off his handcuffs and set him free.
‘HE IS FROM A REPUTABLE HOME’
Residents of Jos were said to be in shock over Balarabe’s alleged involvement with the suspected kidnap kingpin.
Describing him as one of the luckiest, residents who grew up together with the captain reportedly said they least expected that he could be linked to crimes, as he was raised in a good home.
“I was shocked to the marrow when I saw the pictures of Tijjani on the social media as the army officer in the midst of the kidnapping saga,” one of the sources was quoted.
“The face I saw on Facebook reminded me of our childhood. We were brought up with a lot of discipline. His father was an upright man, very vast in Islamic knowledge and he did his best for his children before he died,” he added.
Another source said he “is from a reputable home. His father was an Islamic cleric who was well respected in the community. All the children are decent, and I can tell you that this came to us as a surprise and many people cannot believe that Tijjani is in any way connected to the killing of the police officers or have anything to do with Hamisu Wadume.”
Balarabe who joined the army as a private soldier was in 2013 commissioned as an officer. Over the years as a soldier, he served directly under senior army officers.
The defence headquarters has been directed to probe the killings of the policemen.