Al-Mustapha: Lagos’ Appeal Could Ignite Ethnic Distrust, Says Ex-police Chief

180713N.Hamza-al-MustaphaMajor Al-Mustapha

A retired police commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Babankowa, Wednesday declared that “the steps taken by the Lagos State Government on the persecution of the former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, have the potential of consuming the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Babankowa urged the Lagos State Government to retrace its steps, pointing out that the issue has the capacity to rekindle the distrust between the people of Hausa/Fulani extraction, on one side, and the Yorubas, on the other.

“The way and manner the North received this serving military officer on his home coming and the calibre of highly placed individuals that received him in audience was instructive that the region and the silent majority are solidly sympathetic to him,” he said.
Addressing journalists at his residence, Babankowa added: “From what I have seen so far, I have no doubt in my mind that this current step would harm the relationship across borders against the backdrop of interpretation and understanding of a layman who are simply in the majority here.

“I have seen the case file and the grounds for appeal by the Lagos State Government. It would be safe to say that they are trying to exhaust all legal means to satisfy the Abiola family in particular and the Yoruba race in general. But the danger inherent in such judicial expedition is the risk of the relationship with our people.”

Babankowa said the decision of the Lagos State Government to appeal Al-Mustapha’s acquittal at the Supreme Court might not be unconnected to the resolve to satisfy Abiola family, but cautioned that “while doing that, conscious steps should be applied to avoid harming the larger interest.”

On the registration of APC, Alhaji Babankowa said: “The days of PDP in power are numbered, and we are waiting patiently for the right time to kick them out of power and we are doing our best to knit together a strong and united opposition party. We are equally conscious of saboteurs who feel threatened by the growing strength of the new mega opposition party across the country.

“PDP has nothing to show for the whole length of period they had dominated the political circus and we believe the time is ripe to call their bluff and save the system from further bastardisation.”

Meanwhile, following the disclosure by the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, that his ministry had appealed against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which discharged and acquitted al-Mustapha and Mr. Lateef Shofolahan, over the murder of Kudirat Abiola, a copy of the filed notices of appeal obtained by THISDAY yesterday, showed that the appeal was filed on 14 grounds at the Supreme Court.

Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan, a personal assistant to late Kudirat were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for the murder by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court on January 30, 2012.

But the Court of Appeal, Lagos, on July 12, this year set aside the judgment and quashed the death sentence passed on both al-Mustapha and Shofolahan.

Though Ipaye had informed journalists, at his ministry’s monthly media briefing on Law and Order in the state that he had filed two separate notices of appeal against the judgment, he, however, declined to give details.

However, copies of the notices of appeal obtained showed that the state government had filed six grounds of appeal with respect to al-Mustapha and eight with respect to his co-defendant, Shofolahan.

Ipaye, in the appeal, brought pursuant to section 233(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), argued that the Court of Appeal erred in law by discharging and acquitting the two men, when the evidence linking them to the crime was not materially challenged.

He contended that the contradictions in the testimonies of the prosecution’s star witnesses, Barnbas Jabila (Sgt. Rogers) and Abdul Mohammed (Katako), were not sufficiently substantial to warrant the acquittal of both al-Mustapha and Shofolahan.

According to him, the testimonies of PW2 (Jabila) and PW3 (Mohammed), were detailed, graphic and consistent, adding that the contradictions were immaterial and urged the Supreme Court to affirm the death penalty.

“DW1 (al-Mustapha) provided the logistics for killing the deceased in Lagos. PW3 (Mohammed) was assigned as driver to PW2 (Jabila) because of his knowledge of Lagos and PW3 gave graphic evidence of how he drove PW2 to the scene of the crime and how PW2 shot the deceased severally.

“PW2 admitted meeting DW2 (Shofolahan) to the killing of the deceased and testified that DW2 took them to the deceased’s house and provided information about the identification and movement of the deceased.

“The statements of PW2, PW3 and even DW1 tendered and admitted by the trial court showed that these three witnesses indeed met and had common intention to commit a crime.

“It was an undisputed fact that Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was shot and died on June 4, 1996. PW2 admitted he severally shot the deceased on June 4, 1996.

“There was unchallenged evidence that DW1 gave his gun to PW2 for killing the deceased and the insistence of PW2 that he would be surprised that he used 5.6mm gun instead of 9mm to kill the deceased. There was circumstantial evidence establishing the fact that DW1 and DW2 participated and aided the elimination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola,” Ipaye stated.

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