Lagos State Government yesterday reopened a criminal case against a former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the former dictator and late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha three years after he was freed in a controversial step by the Court of Appeal on his alleged involvement in the June 4, 1996 murder of the wife of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, Kudirat.
The state in the new suit is asking the Supreme Court to set aside a judgment of the Court of Appeal which on July 12, 2013 discharged and acquitted Al-Mustapha of the murder of Abiola’s wife, Kudirat. Besides, Lagos is specifically asking the apex court to uphold and restore the death sentence by hanging passed on Al-Mustapha by a Lagos High Court on January 30, 2012 with a view.
This is coming three years after the appellate court freed the ex CSO for want of credible evidence to link him directly with the murder. Al-Mustapha, Mohammed Abacha and Kudirat’s protocol officer, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan were arraigned before a Lagos High Court on a two-count criminal charge of conspiracy to commit murder and the murder of the late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996 in Lagos State.
After years of trial, the Lagos High Court presided by Justice Moji Dada found the accused persons guilty as charged and sentenced Al-Mustapha to death by hanging on January 30, 2012. Justice Dada in the judgement said Al-Mustapha and others deserved death by hanging because they were culpable as charged following a series of evidence before the court.
Dissatisfied, Al-Mustapha on April 27, 2012 headed for the Court of Appeal for a review of the trial and the conviction. At the Court of Appeal, a three-member panel after the review of Al-Mustapha’s appeal in a unanimous judgment of July 12, 2013, voided the decision of the High Court, set it aside and discharged and acquitted the accused persons on the grounds that the evidence against them was not strong enough to warrant the death sentence.
Three years after, the case was yesterday reopened by the Lagos State government following a notice of appeal out of the time at the Supreme Court, asking for the court’s permission to allow it to challenge the findings of Justices Amina Adamu Augie, Rita Nosakhare Pemu and Fatimo Omoro Akinbami on the grounds of a miscarriage of Justice in the matter.