By ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH & DAUD OLATUNJI
In a terse statement by the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, said:” For now, we cannot make comments about the judgement. Copies of the judgement are yet to be issued by court. I need to study it before making my comments.”
The Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan, spoke in the same vein on telephone with Saturday Vanguard.
Head of Abiola family, Alhaji Mubashiru Abiola yesterday expressed shock over the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos which discharged and acquitted Major Hamza Al- Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, for conspiracy and murder of Kudirat Abiola.
Bashiru who spoke in Abeokuta, said that the family was hearing the news for the first time.
He however, emphasized that the family would not make any statement over the matter for now until a meeting of the family over the Appeal Court judgment which had not been fixed.
Kudirat’s first daughter, Hafsat Abiola-Constello also commenting on the judgement of the Appeal Court, said, the family would soon come up with a press release on the issue.
But for Mr Olalekan Ojo, Al-Mustapha’s Counsel. “It was a victory against injustice. “The Justices of the Court of Appeal in Lagos have brought sanity to the criminal justice system of Nigeria. They were unanimous in condemning the attitude of the learned trial judge in the handling of the case.
“Again, they said that the learned trial judge shut her eyes to the facts and evidences placed before the court and chose to rely on sentiments and politics of the South-West and that criminal conviction cannot be secured based on such evidences.
”I am happy that at last, justice has been done, but I am sad because of two things. For 14 years, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was held in custody for a case that was doomed from the beginning. The case that was not properly investigated. A case where the evidences of prosecution witnesses were contradictory. The appellate court said, it was fool-hardy for the learned trial judge to have said there were no contradictions in the evidences by the prosecution witnesses.
Al- Mustapha’s mother died because of conviction:
”However, it is sad that Al-Mustapha’s mother died because of his conviction. From the day her son was condemned, she went into coma and never came out of it as she died less than two months.
”Now, that is an irreparable loss to the family because of the perverse judgment of the trial court. I use this opportunity to call on those charged with the administration of criminal justice to eschew gossip, religious bigotry among others in the adjudication of any criminal case brought before them.”
Ladi Rotimi-Williams, SAN.
“I don’t know how they arrived at their conclusion. The law is an ass, I must say. It is surprising, very surp-rising and shocking. And I believe the state will appeal that judgement. Honestly, it is surprising and shocking how they arrived at the conclusion that he is not guilty. Because the facts are there.
“Sometimes, I don’t understand what is going on with all my long years in the inner bar. I am not suggesting any impropriety or that there is some foul play but it is shocking unless the state prosecutor hopelessly messed up the case; otherwise, I will say it is shocking.”
Mr. Yinka Odumakin, a chieftain of Save Nigeria Group, SNG.
“The judgement is a direct license to murderers to shed innocent blood knowing that they will escape the long arm of the law. The killers of Kudirat Abiola will know no peace because her spirit will continue to torment them for the rest of their lives.”
Mr Richard Akinnola, Rights activist:
”Al-Mustapha’s acquittal, despite all the plethora of evidence against him, to me is more political than judicial. With due respect to the Appeal Court justices, it was a perverse verdict which the Lagos State Government should appeal.”