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al-Mustapha to die for Kudirat’s murder – The Nation

— Abiola’s wife’s aide Sofolahan also to die by hanging — Hafsat: it’s justice at last — Abacha’s CSO to appeal sentence
The sensational life of Hamza al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Gen. Sani Abacha, crashed yesterday at a Lagos High Court.
He is to die by hanging for the murder of the late Chief Moshood Abiola’s wife, Kudirat.
Also sentenced to death by hanging is Lateef Sofolahan, the late Mrs Abiola’s aide.
Justice Mojisola Dada found them guilty of conspiracy and murder of the late Mrs Abiola, who mounted a spirited opposition to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election – Nigeria’s freest and fairest ever – which the late Abiola won.
The judge, in the judgment she read from 9. 50 am to 4.40 pm, held that the prosecution proved its case against the defendants beyond reasonable doubt.
The court punctured all the evidence by the defendants, describing them as afterthought and an attempt to wriggle out of a difficult situation.
“The prosecution’s evidence is manifestly reliable as having proved the ingredient of conspiracy and murder of the late Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996 against the defendants.
“The defendants are hereby sentenced to the mandatory sentence, according to Section 319 of the Criminal Code of Lagos State. They are to die by hanging until pronounced dead,” the judge held.
Justice Dada, who came down heavily on the defendants, described al-Mustapha as a liar and an individual who thought he was untouchable. She described Sofolahan as a leech and greedy individual, who willingly betrayed his benefactor.
The court held that al-Mustapha “felt obliged to silent any voice against the government of his boss”. “He manifested himself in such a way that he thought nobody could touch him.”
The judge described Sofolahan as “a willing tool, a gold digger, a
Judas Iscariot, who sold his master”.
“It is his greed that took him to Sarkin Sasa to fulfill his ambition to romance with government as a leader of delegation at the Abacha rally.
“Members of the Abiola family did not know they were habouring a viper, a friend in the open and an enemy in the secret. He deliberately sacrificed Alhaja Kudirat to meet his personal greed. Blood tasty traitor.
“It is amazing that those who shed blood are those who dread death most,” the judge said.
Justice Dada held that the claim by al-Mustapha that his schedule as the CSO was to repel, contain and manage any threat to the seat of power, the president and his family, a responsibility which informed the establishment of the Strike Force, supports the prosecution’s claim that the late Mrs Abiola was killed because she was perceived as a threat to the government.
On the videos showed in court about some pro-democracy leaders in Aso Villa, the court held that they were distractions and extraneous to the fact of the case. The court also held that all al-Mustapha’s evidence detailing events that occurred after Kudirat’s death were irrelevant to the case.
The court wondered how al-Mustapha knew that the late Chief Bola Ige was compensated with a ministerial appointment for the role he allegedly played in the events leading to Abiola’s death when he (al-Mustapha) was not a member of the Federal Executive Council.
On the defendants’ claim that they never conspired as they only met each other for the first time at the 100 million – man match in Abuja, the judge held that evidence by the prosecution proved otherwise.
She said the evidence by the second prosecution witness, Barnabas Jabila (Rogers), that al-Mustapha handed him a sophisticated weapon and that by first prosecution witness, Dr. Ore Falomo, that the bullet found on the deceased was a special bullet supported the claim of the prosecution.
Justice Dada, whose voice remained firm and strong, held that al-Mustapha’s claim that he handed Rogers his gun for cleaning after a gaming exercise was an afterthought.
On the defendants’ argument that the court should discountenance the evidence by Rogers and Katako on the ground that they recanted, the court, relying on the Principle of Remedial Law doctrine, held that the fact that the witnesses denied their earlier statement was not enough for the court to cancel them.
The judge held that it was for the court to compare and juxtapose the circumstances and motive behind the change of mind. The court will indiscriminately analyse the fact and circumstances under which the testimonies were made.
She held that the contradiction in the evidence of Katako and Rogers as regard when the killing actually took place was immaterial as the evidence by Falomo that the murder took place between 7am and 8 am gave credence to the fact that it occurred in the morning.
The court faulted al-Mustapha’s claim that his trial was part of the plan by the authorities to persecute him because of the sensitive documents and video recording. The court observed that since al-Mustapha did not say he legitimately obtained the video recordings he claimed to have sent to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he obtained them illegitimately.
Justice Dada said the evidence before the court was weighty and showed that the duo conspired and killed Abiola on June 4, 1996, near the Ikeja end of the former Lagos-Ibadan Toll Gate.
The judge said that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubts that the duo met between March 1995 and June 4, 1996 to plot the murder of the pro-democracy campaigner.
She said that the court believed the evidence of the first prosecution witness, Barnabas Jabila (a.k.a. Sgt. Rogers), that the murder was plotted at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
Dada also said that the court believed Jabila’s evidence that Al-Mustapha gave him (Jabila) his personal gun to shoot Mrs Abiola inside her white Mercedez Benz Beast, near the toll gate.
Justice Dada said: “The second defendant willingly handed over Kudirat Abiola to her killer. The court is a fact-finding tribunal which must be seen to be doing its work without any bias and ambiguity.
“The first and second defendants jointly agreed to kill Kudirat Abiola. The defendants are found guilty of conspiracy and murder.
“The evidence is so weighty that the court has no doubts. The defendants are, therefore, found guilty, as charged.
“The light shines in darkness and darkness comprehends it not. Those who shed blood are those who fear death most.
“The defendants are accordingly sentenced to death by hanging, until they are proved dead.”
The prosecution team led by the Solicitor-General of Lagos State Mr Lawal Pedro, expressed satisfaction at the judgment.
But the defence team, led by Mr Olalekan Ojo, said it would appeal against the judgment, which was delivered under tight security.

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