June 16, 2009

Ibru: Accused persons’ statements obtained under duress – Court

By Abdulwahab Abdulah

LAGOS — The State, prosecuting Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former CSO to late Gen. Sani Abacha and three others, yesterday, lost in its bid to prove that the accused persons’ statements were confessional as an Ikeja High Court  rejected the alleged confessional statements of the defendants tendered by the prosecution.

Presiding Judge, Justice Mufutau Olokooba, in his ruling held the statements in question were obtained under duress as Al-Mustapha and others were tortured and put under different inhuman treatments in the cause of obtaining their statements.

Justice Olokoba said uncontradicted evidence was deemed to have been admitted and therefore rejected the contentious October 12, 1999 statements.

Al-Mustapha led others to challenge their statements tendered by the state, insisting that the statements brought before the court were taken under duress to nail them for the offences of conspiracy and attempted murder levelled at them.

Major Hamza Al-Mustapha; former Military Administrator of Zamfara State, Col. Jubrin Bala Yakubu; Mohammed Rabo Lawal and former Lagos Police boss, Mr James Danbaba, are standing trial over alleged attempted murder case of The Guardian publisher, Alex Ibru, and former Director of Sports, Delta State, Isaac Porbeni, in 1996.

In his ruling, Olokooba held that the prosecution in the trial-within-trial did not disprove the allegations of torture made by the defendant.

“How free can a statement taken in leg chain and hand cuff be? It is not voluntary. I hold in the result that the prosecution who bears the burden of prove has failed to do so. So I hereby reject the statement taken on October 12, 1999.”

While prosecution witness lead evidence in the case, statements obtained from the accused persons were sought to be tendered in evidence and two of the accused persons, Jubrin Bala Yakubu and Mohammed Rabo Lawal, objected on the grounds that the statements were not voluntarily made.