A Lagos High Court has ruled that Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former chief security officer to maximum dictator, Sanni Abacha must die by hanging for the 1994 murder of Hajia Kudirat Abiola, the wife of the late buisness mogul and winner of the June 12 election. Bashorun MKO Abiola.
The court presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada also sentenced Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, A homer personal assistant to Mrs. Abiola to death by hanging over the assassination.
Mrs. Kudirat Abiola was killed on the streets of Lagos on one 4th 1996 by gunmen sent by Major Mustapha while he was the CSo to Abacha. Alhaji Shofolahan provided surveillance assistance to the killer squad as they trailed the outspoken wife of Chief Abiola until her murder.
It would be recalled that in August last year, Al-Mustapha read out in court an incriminating written confession he had given to the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) in Abuja on October 13, 1999, after the statement was admitted in evidence in the case.
In that statement, Al-Mustapha admitted responsibility for supplying the guns used in the murder of Kudirat. The presiding judge, Mojisola Dada, then ruled that the prosecution, which was led by Lawal Pedro, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, could cross-examine Mustapha on the statement.
Both the prosecution and the defence gave their closing arguments to the court on November 12, after which Justice Dada fixed judgment for today, January 30, 2012.
Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the counsel to the defendant, had argued that Al-Mustapha should be found “not guilty.” In a 112-page written address which he read in court, he argued that Sergeant Barnabas Rogers and Kakako, the prosecution’s key witnesses, lacked credibility because they had given ‘inconsistent evidence’ and therefore, his client s hould be declared ”not guilty.”
Citing other cases, he said, “Where a witness has two/more conflicting evidences before the court, the court does not consider the credibility of such witness and the defendant should be adjudged non-guilty because a witness that affirms he can narrate what he is told in a trial has no credibility before the court.”
At a point during the long trial, Al-Mustapha seemed determined to distract the proceedings. He told the court that a group of Yoruba leaders, including former Minister of Justice Bola Ige, who was assassinated in 2001, was complicit in Mr. Abiola’s 1998 murder.
He also claimed that the General Abubakar Abdulsalami regime withdrew vast amounts of money from the Central Bank of Nigeria allegedly to buy the silence of some Yoruba figures in the matter. He played an inconclusive video in court which showed some Yoruba leaders leaving a meeting with General Abubakar at Aso Rock.
Al Mustapha was responsible for one of the darkest and most bloodthirsty eras in Nigeria history, coordinating the efforts to assassinate such top Nigerians as Pa Alfred Rewane and Kudirat Abiola. Mr. Alex Ibru, the publisher of The Guardian who died recently, miraculously survived the attempt on his life, but he was in the hospital for a long time receiving surgeries and treatment for the gunshot wounds he received.
Details of today’s judgment are forthcoming.