After long years of legal battle, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha has finally regained freedom. The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday discharged and acquitted him from the murder of the Kudirat Abiola.
Mrs. Abiola was shot dead on June 4, 1996 in Lagos, allegedly on the order of Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer to the Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
Al-Mustapha had on January 30 been sentenced to death by hanging by a Lagos High Court for conspiracy and the murder of Mrs. Abiola, wife of the acclaimed winner of June12 presidential election that was annulled by former President Ibrahim Babangida.
The presiding judge accused the Lagos High Court of being “stroked to secure a conviction by all means.”
Justice Rita Pemu in the lead judgment and corroborated by two other judges, Aminat Augie and Fatimah Akinbanmi, the Court ruled that the case was not properly investigated and that prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Out of the 12 potential witnesses listed by the prosecution counsel, only four showed up. They are Dr Ore Falomo, Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Mshiela aka Sergeant Rogers, Dagama Katako and a retired police officer, Ahmed Fari Yusuf.
On the January ruling of the High Court which sentenced Al-Mustapha to death by hanging, the Appellate court, said the lower court did not evaluate properly the evidence presented before it. The Court insisted that the ballistic expert report was not tendered before it, also noting contradictions in the evidences of the second and third witnesses, Sergeant Rogers and one of Katako respectively.
The judges also faulted the submissions and evidences tendered by the witnesses, saying they cannot be relied upon. The court noted in particular that one of the witnesses, Ahmed Fari Yusuf did not show up in court to be cross-examined hence, his evidence was set aside.
In discharging and acquitting Al-Mustapha and Lateef Sofolahan, the court stressed that it was not interested in the political undertone that the case may have generated,
“In view of the totality of the evidence before the court, there is nothing linking Al Mustapha with the killing of Kudirat Abiola as he was not the one that pulled the trigger that killed Kudirat Abiola,” the judges averred.