APC Asks Buhari To Honour Kudirat Abiola As Democracy Heroine

File photo: Late Kudirat Abiola

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to honour Mrs Kudirat, the wife of MKO Abiola – the presumed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.

The party made the request on Friday in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi.

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They joined other Nigerians to commend the President for declaring June 12 as Nigeria’s new Democracy Day.

The ruling party also welcomed the posthumous award of Nigeria’s highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), granted to MKO Abiola.

They, however, noted that Kudirat paid the supreme price with her assassination on June 4, 1996, in Lagos, at the heat of the mobilisation for the restoration of her husband’s mandate as the winner of the election.

The APC noted that in such regard, she deserves to be honoured in her own right as a heroine and martyr of democracy in Nigeria.

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They further recalled how Kudirat mobilised market women, students, activists, and other human rights communities against military rule and the struggle for a truly democratic nation.

The party equally commend the decision to honour Abiola’s running mate, Babagana Kingibe, and late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) with the second highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON).

They said President Buhari has again displayed a sincerity of purpose and his penchant for doing the right thing, irrespective of political and sundry considerations in taking such courageous and patriotic decision.

The statement read, “As a party, we remain resolved in our struggle to deepen our democracy and continue to improve on the transparency and credibility of our electoral systems.

“We reiterate that regardless of its imperfections, democracy remains the best form of government that can best serve the interest of our people.

“We affirm that this decision by President Buhari yet again exemplifies APC’s commitment to the sanctity of popular elections and respect for the right of the people to freely choose their leaders in accordance with the fundamental principle of democracy that no man has the right to exercise power over other men, except with their consent.”

LASG Files 14 Grounds Of Appeal Against Al-Mustapha,Shofolahan’s Acquittal

The Lagos State Government has filed 14 grounds of appeal at the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal which acquitted and discharged Major Hamza al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan on charges of murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, informed journalists on Tuesday that his ministry had, on Monday, filed two separate notices of appeal against the judgments of the Court of Appeal but declined to give details of the grounds of appeal.

However, the copies of the notices of appeal obtained by our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele showed that the state government had filed six grounds of appeal with respect to Al-Mustapha and eight with respect to Shofolahan.

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court had on the 30th of January 2012 sentenced both men to death by hanging for the murder of Kudirat.

But the Court of Appeal, Lagos, on the 12th of July 2013, set aside the judgment and quashed the death sentence passed.

In the grounds of appeal, the attorney general argued that the Court of Appeal erred in law by discharging and acquitting the two men when the evidence linking them to the crime was not materially challenged.

He said the contradictions in the testimonies of the prosecution’s star witnesses, Barnabas Jabila popularly known as Sergeant Rogers and Abdul Mohammed popularly known as Katako were not sufficiently substantial to warrant the acquittal of both al-Mustapha and Shofolahan.

The attorney general maintained that the testimonies of Barnabas Jabila and that of Abdul Mohammed were detailed, graphic and consistent.

Both witnesses had testified about how they participated in the killing of Kudirat under the instruction given by al-Mustapha with Shofolahan’s assistance as an informant but later denied and recanted the incriminating testimonies during trial.

Mr Ipaye in the notices of appeal argued that the contradictions were immaterial and urged the Supreme Court to affirm the death penalty.

The attorney general said “al-Mustapha” provided the logistics for killing the deceased in Lagos. The third prosecution witness   (Mohammed) was assigned as driver to second prosecution witness (Jabila) because of his knowledge of Lagos and the third prosecution witness gave graphic evidence of how he drove the second prosecution witness to the scene of the crime and how the second prosecution witness shot the deceased severally.

“The second prosecution witness admitted to meeting the second defence witness (Shofolahan) and also testified that the second defence witness took them to the deceased’s house and provided information about the identification and movement of the deceased.

“The statements of second prosecution witness, third prosecution witness and even first defence witness (Al-Mustapha) tendered and admitted by the trial court showed that these three witnesses indeed met and had common intention to commit a crime.

“It was an undisputed fact, that Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was shot and died on June 4, 1996. The second prosecution witness admitted he severally shot the deceased on June 4, 1996.

“There was unchallenged evidence that the first defence witness gave his gun to second prosecution witness for killing the deceased and there was also the insistence of second prosecution witness that he would be surprised that the gun used to kill the deceased was a 5.6mm gun instead of the 9mm, the first defence witness gave him to kill the deceased.

“There was circumstantial evidence establishing the fact that the first defence witness and second defence witness participated and aided the elimination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.” the attorney general ended.

EFCC Prosecutor, Oblah, Femi Falana Speak On Freedom Of Hamza, Shofolahan

This edition of Law weekly looks at some of the issues in the court of appeal judgment which freed Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Mr Lateef Shofolahan. Both men had been handed the death sentence for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

Mr Femi Falana shares his perspective on the lessons from the judgment and one of EFCC’s foremost prosecutor, Mr Godwin Obla speaks about the challenges of prosecution in Nigeria and other issues.

Reactions are still trailing the July 12 judgment of the court of appeal which quashed the death sentence passed on major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former chief security officer to late general Sani Abacha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, the former aide of the late Kudirat Abiola.

A senior advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana also shares an interesting perspective to the matter.

Army Denies Reported Promotion For Al-Mustapha

The Nigerian Army has disociated itself from reports in some section of the online media of plans to decorate the recently released chief security officer to the late General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha with the rank of a brigadier general.

According to the Director of Army Public Relations Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru, there is no truth to the report even though Major Al-Mustapha is still enlisted in the Nigerian army.

According to him  ‘The Nigerian Army as a professional force, will be guided by all administrative procedures guided by extant administrative rules and regulations in the handling of  the status of Major Al-Mustapha such as the Armed Forces of Nigeria harmonized terms and conditions of service amongst others.

The Nigerian Army had earlier confirmed claims by Major Hamza Al-Mustapha that he remains a personnel of the Nigerian Army, but did not say if his status will be upgraded from the rank of a Major in the Nigerian Army.

Al Mustapha who was incarcerated for 14 years while on trial for the murder of late Kudirat Abiola the wife of Chief MKO Abiola.

The Appeal Court in Lagos dismissed charges of conspiracy to murder Alhaja Kudirat Abiola levelled against the former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

The Court in a unanimous decision ruled that there was no direct circumstantial evidence that he conspired with anyone as evidence of prosecution witnesses in that regard were contradictory.

Justice Rita Pemu who read the lead judgment held that there was no direct circumstantial evidence that he conspired with anyone as evidence of prosecution witnesses in that regard were contradictory.

She further held that based on facts and evidence before the court, it is certainly not Al-Mustapha who pulled the trigger and murdered Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

The Court holds that he is liable to be discharged and acquitted.

The duo of Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan had appealed against the judgment of a Lagos High Court which sentenced them to death for the June 4, 1996 murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the deceased winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.

Appeal Court Dismisses Murder Charges Against Al-Mustapha

The Appeal Court in Lagos has dismissed charges of conspiracy to murder Alhaja Kudirat Abiola levelled against former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (RTD).

The Court in a unanimous decision ruled that there was no direct circumstantial evidence that he conspired with anyone as evidence of prosecution witnesses in that regard were contradictory.

Our legal correspondent, Shola Soyele  who is in the court reports that, Justice Rita Pemu who read the lead judgment held that there was no direct circumstantial evidence that he conspired with anyone as evidence of prosecution witnesses in that regard were contradictory.

She further held that based on facts and evidence before the court, it is certainly not Al-Mustapha who pulled the trigger and murdered Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

The Court holds that he is liable to be discharged and acquitted.

Justice Amina Augie who is the presiding Judge has just concurred with the lead judgement as read by Justice Rita Pemu.

Third Judge, Justice Fatima Akinbami has also agreed with the lead judgement meaning that the ruling is unanimous.

Al-Mustapha’s co-accused, Lateef Shofolahan was also discharged on the same grounds.

The duo of Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan had appealed against the judgment of a Lagos High Court which sentenced them to death for the June 4, 1996 murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the deceased winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court had found them guilty of the offence, and accordingly convicted and sentenced them to death by hanging.

Counsel to the appellants had however, appealed to the Court of Appeal, 24-hours after the sentence of the convicts.

In the notice of appeal, the appellants contend that the death sentence handed by the lower court was unwarranted, unreasonable and a manifest miscarriage of justice.

The convicts were first arraigned in October 1999 on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy and their involvement in the 1996 murder of the late Kudirat, on the Lagos/Ibadan expressway.

Court Sets April 29 To Hear Al-Mustapha’s Death Sentence Appeal

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has fixed April 29 for the hearing of the appeal filed by Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Sani Abacha; and Lateef Sofolahan, former Personal Assistant to late Kudirat Abiola.

Presenting the appeal on Friday, Al-Mustapha’s lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo, in his 112-page written address, said the prosecution’s evidence on the defendant’s conviction was not supported by law.

The appellants contended that the death sentence by the lower court was “unwarranted, unreasonable and a manifest miscarriage of justice.”

Mr. Al-Mustapha’s four grounds and Mr. Shofolahan’s five grounds of appeal faulted the judgment of the lower court in admitting the testimonies of Ore Falomo, as well as the contradictory statements of Barnabas Jabila (a.k.a Sgt. Rogers) and Mohamamed Abdul (a.k.a Katako).

He urged the court to acquit and discharge his clients.

A Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere on  31 January, 2012 convicted Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer t over the murder of of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.

The defendants have been sentenced to death by hanging.

Kudirat Abiola’s murder case is adjudged to be the longest criminal trials in the nation’s history, lasting more than 12 years with five successive judges during which time the accused persons were held in detention.

The time spent in prison calendar by the defendants is equivalent to 20 years.

The prosecution counsel led by Lawal Pedro had accused Al-Mustapha of ordering Sergeant Barnabas Jabila (Sgt. Rogers), who was then a member of both the Strike Force and Body Guards – military units within the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, to kill Mrs Abiola.

Kudirat Abiola was shot dead on June 4, 1996 along the Lagos/ Ibadan Expressway, Lagos toll gate, opposite Cargo Vision, Ikeja in Lagos.

The prosecution also accused Mr Shofolahan, who was said to be Kudirat’s protocol officer, to have revealed the deceased’s itinerary to her assailants.

According to the prosecution, Mohammed Abdulof was alleged to have driven the car Jabila and Sholohan used to trail and killed Mrs Abiola.

Mr Shofolahan, however, denied that he ever worked for Kudirat in any capacity throughout her lifetime.

The prosecuting lawyers in their 34-page final written address, at the close of the trial on November 10, 2011, urged the court to convict the two accused persons as charged.