|picture by Tribune|
Following the dischard and acquittal of Major Hamza al-Mustapha, both the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) and the Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, however, condemned the verdict which they say was a set back to the rule of law and justice.
However, in Kano, when the news his acquittal filtered in on Friday, there was spontaneous jubilation, while anxious family members and friends of the former CSO besieged the gates of the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons, Apapa, Lagos, in anticipation of his release.
In a unanimous decision, the appeal court upturned the judgement of a Lagos High Court which convicted al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan in January 2012.
The first Son Kudirat, Lekan Abiola told Punch that he was “disappointed, but not particularly surprised by the judgement.”
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, had on January 30, 2012 passed a death sentence on both men after finding them guilty of the murder of the wife of the late acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
“I pray that God will forgive my mother and I know that my mum and dad will definitely get justice; maybe not in Nigeria, but I’m sure that Allah will give them justice where they are.”
He said, “The Appeal Court only completed the work of other courts before it that have played roles in scuttling the family’s quest for justice in this matter. They finished the job, but they weren’t the ones who started it.
“We had seven or so defendants before now with confessions of the roles they played in the death of my mother; there was Mohammed Abacha, Banabas Jabila aka Sgt. Rogers, James Danbaba, Lateef Shofolahan, Rabo Lawal and others. Everybody said the role they played; the one who did the shooting; the one who drove; the one who arranged for the car that was used when they got to Lagos from Abuja; the people in the room when the order to kill my mother was given. All the seven started the case, but the Supreme Court started the whole thing when it said that Mohammed Abacha had no case to answer.”
According to him, the Abiola family would still have been disappointed even if the death sentence had been upheld by the Appeal Court.
He said, “One after the other, the cases were dropped and it was down to the remaining two. Where are the others? The fact that only two of them were convicted shows the rot in the judicial system. Even if the court had upheld the death sentence, we still wouldn’t have got the justice we sought. Already, most of those involved had been freed.”