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Al-Mustapha: Power outage disrupts video show

By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Richard Eromosele
Effort to play the video containing proceedings at the 1999 Special Investigative Panel (SIP) in Abuja that probed Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to late Gen Sani Abacha and four others suffered a set back due to power outage in the court.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Mufutau Olokooba dashed the hope of Major Hamzat Al Mustapha and his co_defendants’ efforts to get their trial for alleged attempt on the life of the Guardian publisher, Mr. Alex Ibru quashed.

However, it was difficult for the prosecution to play the video yesterday, when the whole premises of the Ikeja high court were thrown into darkness.

The generating set powering a section of the High Court had developed a fault, while the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) failed to restore electricity.

This forced Justice Mufutau Olokooba to adjourn the case after he had waited in vain for power to be restored.

Several lawyers, especially those from the Lagos State Ministry of Justice had besieged the court hoping the clips.

The prosecution team led by Mr Lawal Pedro, had previously said it would be relying on the tape to identify the police officer as being a member of the SIP at the time of the initial investigation.

But the defence counsels, Messrs C.K. Nmakwe, Olalekan Ojo, and U.C Ikegbule, urged the court to impress it on the prosecution to furnish them with the master tape. The defence had earlier alleged that the tape was edited because there were portions in the proceedings of the SIP which contained images of torture and abuse of the defendants.

Justice Olokooba subse-quently adjourned the matter till March 30 for continuation of the trial.

At the trial Friday, the prosecution, led by Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan, who is also the state’s Director of Public Prosecution, had prayed the court to allow a public viewing of the tape containing the interrogation of the suspects when they appeared before the SIP in Abuja in 1999.

Al Mustapha is standing trial alongside former commissioner of police, James Danbaba, former Military Administrator of Zamfara, Col. Jibrin Bala Yakubu and CSP Rabo Lawal in the case.

But the defence counsel objected to the viewing of the video, which eventually led to long argument before the court ruled in favour of the prosecution to play the video. The SIP had in 1999 investigated Al Mustapha and some other persons in connection with the attempted murder of The Guardian publisher and some other prominent Nigerians during the military regime of the late Abacha.


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