A Justice of the Supreme Court, Centus Nweze, on Thursday, withdrew from the court’s panel constituted to hear the appeal filed by the Lagos State Government challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal which acquitted Maj. Hamza al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan of the murder of Kudirat Abiola.
Justice Nweze opted out of the panel on the grounds that he partly participated in the hearing of the case while it was before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.
The judge, in fact, indicated that he at a time, presided over the hearing of the case at the appeal court before another panel of the same court took over it.
Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, who led the apex court’s five-man panel on Thursday, immediately ruled that Justice Nweze would not participate in the proceedings and adjourned till January 12, 2016.
Kudirat, wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, was gunned down in Lagos on June 4, 1996.
Both al-Mustapha, a former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha; and Shofolahan were in January 2012 sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court for the murder of deceased.
But the Court of Appeal in Lagos on July 12, 2013, discharged and acquitted both men through the judgment which the state government had appealed against at the Supreme Court.
The Lagos State Government has since filed the appeal, SC/45/2014, to challenge the judgment of the appeal court.