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Rights group flays Al-Mustapha’s 15yrs incarceration

By Emma Amaize & FESTUS AHON

…As Onuesoke lauds judgment
WARRI—FORUM for Justice and Human Rights Defence, FJHD, Warri, Delta State, Sunday, said it was an embarrassment for justice sector administration that Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer, CSO, to ex-Head of State , late Sani Abacha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, spent over 14 years in prison.

The duo were acquitted of the murder charge levelled against them last Friday.

Meantime, former governorship aspirant in Delta State, Mr. Sunny Onuesoke, has commended the Court of Appeal, Lagos, over the release of Major Al-Mustpha and Shofolahan.

Onuesoke, who spoke to newsmen, weekend, while celebrating the release of the duo in his Agbarha-Otor country home, also commended President Goodluck Jonathan for not interfering with the judicial process that culminated in the freedom of  Al-Mustpha and Shofolahan after spending over 14 years in prison for murder and conspiracy charges.

He described the appellate court’s decision, setting aside the sentence handed  Al-Mustpha and Shofolahan on January 30, 2012 by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, by the Court of Appeal as the act of God, adding “the presiding judge, Justice Rita Pemu, is a woman of integrity.”

Al-Mustpha and Shofolahan were sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, who was shot dead in Lagos on June 4,  1996.

Onuesoke said: “The release of Al-Mustpha and  Shofolahan is good for the growth of our nascent democracy. It shows that the judiciary still remains the hope of the common man. At last justice has been done in this case.”

FJHD in a statement by its National Coordinator, Mr. Oghenjabor Ikimi, said justice delayed was justice denied.

He said:  “The above scenario is no doubt a shame, we are for the timely passage into law of the criminal justice reform bill by the National Assembly.”

“We,  members of FJHD,  welcome the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos,  which acquitted  Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan over the murder of Kudirat Abiola.  We totally agree with Justice  Pemu,  who read the lead judgment of the said court to the effect that there was a huge shadow of doubt in the case of the prosecution as same failed woefully to link the accused persons with the commission of the crime of murder.

“Thus the court did not hesitate to resolving the said doubt in favour of the said accused persons which in turn led to their acquittal,” he said.

It noted, “Nigerians are not oblivious of the fact that the trial of the duo of  Al-Mustapher and Shofolahan, both at the Lagos High Court and at the Court of Appeal took over 14 years before the accused persons were eventually acquitted of the said charge of murder.”


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