Al-Mustapha sentenced to death

Published On: February 6, 2012, 2:00 am
Author: ayo ogundele
-- (m) at 6-02-2012 02:00AM

(46 | Newbie)

Major Hamza Al-Mustapha’s long drawn murder trial ended yesterday when a Lagos High Court sentenced him to death by hanging for the 1996 murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late presidential candidate Moshood Abiola.
Judge Mojisola Dada of the High Court ruled that Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, chief security officer to the late Head of State General Sani Abacha, was guilty of conspiracy and murder of Kudirat.

An aide to Abiola, Lateef Sofolahan, was found guilty of the same charges and also sentenced to death by hanging after the trial which had been repeatedly delayed since 1999.

Kudirat was shot dead on June 4, 1996 in Lagos.

“The court is of the view that the prosecution evidence is manifestly reliable as having proved ingredients of conspiracy and murder against the accused for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996,” Justice Dada said in her ruling which lasted about eight hours.

“The defendants are hereby sentenced to mandatory sentence according to Section 319 of Criminal Code of Laws of Lagos State. They are to die by hanging until pronounced death,” she added.

Defence lawyer for Al-Mustapha, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, rejected the court judgement, saying he would appeal against it.

Speaking to the BBC Hausa shortly after his sentencing, Al-Mustapha said the judgement was hypocritical and was not based on the evidence before the court. He insisted that some unnamed powerful people were behind his travails.

Al-Mustapha is not going to be hanged immediately, lawyers said, pending the outcome of his appeal which could take a couple of years.

If the Court of Appeal confirms his sentencing, he is likely to appeal again to the Supreme Court.

Death penalty has not been officially carried out in the country in some 15 years, with earlier executions having prompted harsh criticism from rights groups.

State governors who have powers to endorse death warrants have not been keen at sending condemned prisoners to the gallows, experts say, leading to a swelling number of death-row inmates in the country’s prisons.

Al-Mustapha was the powerful chief security officer to Abacha, who ruled from November 1993 to July 1998 when he died.


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