Mixed Reactions to Maj. Al-Mustapha’s Freedom

Posted: July 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Mixed reactions have trailed the Court of Appeal ruling in Lagos yesterday, which discharged and acquitted Major Hamza al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late General Sani Abacha, and Lateef Shofolahan, ex-aide to the late Kudirat, who were sentenced to death over the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996.


[Read: Breaking: Appeal Court frees Al-Mustapha]


Fred Agbaje, a human rights activist and lawyer, said he was not surprised by the ruling.


Agbaje said: “The level of evidence in that case left too many loopholes for the defence counsel to take advantage of and that is exactly what they have done.”


“It is good for the development of the rule of law in this country. The innocent shall not be unjustly punished. I hope the matter will now rest, except the Lagos State Government wants to pursue an appeal. Lagos State must not only be ready to pay damages for unlawfully and unconstitutionally detaining and prosecuting an innocent citizen for 15 years, but must be ready as well to offer apology to Al-Mustapha and co.”


However, Gani Adams, the National Coordinator of the Yoruba socio-cultural organsation , the Oodua  People’s Congress (OPC), said the judgement was a bad omen, and would encourage other governments to do evil.


He said: (This judgement gives) “an impression to Nigerians and the whole world that justice in the country has been defeated and therefore needs urgent reform. This judgment will in no small measure discourage the will of Nigerians to stand against injustice and oppression in Nigeria.”


Otunba Adams also said the judgment “has defeated the hope of the people who feel that whatever injustice that befell them can be redressed by the judiciary.”


Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Prof. Itse Sagay’s only words on the matter were a caution against impunity.


He said, “That principle must be established in this country that anybody who infringes on a person’s right, particularly the right to life, must pay fully for it under the law. That is what I want to say.”


And another SAN, Ladi Rotimi-Williams, reacting to the judgement said the ruling was shocking because there was more than enough evidence linking the men to the case.


“I don’t know how they arrived at their conclusion. The law is an ass, I must say. It is surprising; very surprising and shocking. I believe the state will appeal that judgement. The facts are there,” he said.


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