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“Only Supreme Court has final say on Al-Mustapha”

Abuja – Prof. Itse Sagay says the Lagos State Government can go to the Supreme Court over the appellate court’s judgment which discharged and acquitted Maj. Hamza Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan.

Sagay, a constitutional lawyer, said this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.

The constitutional lawyer, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the state government reserved the right to appeal if it was not satisfied with the judgment.

According to him, in spite of the fact that the Court of Appeal in Lagos has discharged and acquitted them, only the Supreme Court has the final say.

“I have not seen the judgment, but I have seen what the press summarised and basically what I deduce from what was published is that the evidences are contradictory.

“I cannot question it because I have not seen the details of what was in favour and what was against.

“I have not read the details of the contradictions, but Lagos State Government can appeal against the judgment to the Supreme Court.

“It does not matter whether they have been discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal in Lagos,” he said.

Hamza al-Mustapha
Hamza al-Mustapha

Sagay expressed fears that the judgment might encourage the culture of impunity in the society.

He prayed that nothing in the judgment would be interpreted as an encouragement for people to take lives without being brought to book.

“My fear is that the judgment, no matter how legitimate and justified, does not end up promoting impunity.

“There is that tendency to take life without fear of consequences and that is one of the greatest problems we have in this country now.

“My hope is that nothing in this judgment will be interpreted to mean an encouragement for people to carry on in that manner,” Sagay said.

He, however, exonerated the judiciary for prolonged adjudication of the case, adding that it had nothing to do with neither the judges nor the prosecution.

NAN reports that the Court of Appeal in Lagos on July 12 discharged and acquitted Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State General Sani Abacha.

The Personal Assistant to the late Kudirat, wife of the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, Moshood Abiola, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, was also discharged and acquitted.

The verdict nullified the death penalty passed on the two men in January 2012 by a Lagos High Court over in the murder of late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

They were sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of Mrs Abiola on June 4, 1996.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State has commended the judiciary for the release of Al-Mustapha, after 15-years in detention.

Kwankwaso made the commendation when Al-Mustapha and his family paid him a courtesy visit at the Government.

He said the incarceration of Al-Mustapha was a lesson to Nigerians, explaining that it should be used to correct the lapses in Nation’s judicial system.

Kwankwaso described Al-Mustapha’s ordeal as an act of Allah, and urged all concerned to take it in good faith as Muslims.

Earlier, Al-Mustapha recalled how he was arrested, humiliated and denied access to lawyers before he was eventually remanded.

Al-Mustapha thanked God Almighty for sparing his life and bringing him back home safely.

On his part, Dr Fredrick Fasheun, who accompanied Al-Mustapha from Lagos, said he was impressed with the welcome they received from Nigerians at the airport. (NAN)


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