By Ikeddy Isiguzo, Chairman Editorila Board
FORMER President Ibrahim Babangida has explained his call for the release of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
Al-Mustapha is on trial for the alleged murder of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, whose husband, Chief MKO Abiola, died in detention contending for the validation of his victory in the June 12 1993 elections.
“ I think I need to explain the basis for the comments,” General Babangida said in an exclusive pre-70th birthday interview he granted Saturday Vanguard.
“Nigerians believe in justice. They also want to see justice being meted out to all. I made those comments on Al-Mustapha simply because he has been on trial for 14 years without a conclusion. The duration of the trial is a cause for concern,” he explained.
General Babangida continued, “Suppose he was tried quickly and he was to serve 21 years. Having spent 14 years, he would have been due for amnesty. He has spent 14 years and the case is still inconclusive. This has dragged on for so long, which is why I am making that appeal.
“My considerations are the length of time he spent in confinement. Suppose at the end of the day he is not found guilty? How do you compensate a young man who has spent 14 years of his life undergoing trial? Nobody even knows when the case will finish. He should be freed,” he said.
General Ibrahim Babangida also spoke on every matter – Al Mustapha’s trial, Obasanjo, coups, creation of states, privatisation, Oputa panel, tenure elongation, zoning, and his administration.
On June 12 and Abiola, he said,“While the crisis was going on , we met two or three times to find a solution to the problem. Abiola was my friend; I will say a good friend. The only thing that went wrong was that the election was annulled. It did not affect our personal relationship. At best, I will say we had an ideological difference from that point.”
General Ibrahim Babangida speaks exclusively to Vanguard on every matter – Al Mustapha’s trial, Obasanjo, coups, creation of state, privatisation, Oputa panel, tenure elongation, zoning and the 2015 elections, and his administration – with a candour that you will never find elsewhere. Available on our pages from Wednesday 17 August when the General turns 70.