By BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, Friday, overruled the death sentence handed to Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan on January 30, 2012, by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere.
According to the presiding judge, Justice Rita Pemu “the lower court stroked to secure a conviction by all means.” The appellate court therefore discharged and acquitted the duo of conspiracy and murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, 45, who was shot in Lagos on June 4, 1996.
The three female appellate court justices that discharged and acquitted Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan are Justice Rita Pemu (presiding), Justice Amina Adamu Augie and Justice F. O. Akinbami. Justice Augie was drafted into the panel following the decision of Justice Ibrahim Saulawa who disqualified himself from hearing the appeal.
Al-Mustapha, a former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, and Shofolahan, a former Personal Assistant to late Kudirat, were both convicted by the lower court for the conspiracy and murder preferred against them by Lagos State.
The duo separately filed their appeals 24-hours after they were convicted, contending that the death sentence handed them was unwarranted, unreasonable and a manifest miscarriage of justice.