The former minister commended the release of Hamza Al-Mustapha.
A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has commended the release of Hamza Al-Mustapha and asked the Federal Government to go after the real killers of the late Kudirat Abiola.
Mr. Fani-Kayode stated this on Friday at a press conference in Abuja shortly after the Court of Appeal in Lagos discharged and acquitted Mr. Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, Sani Abacha. He, alongside, Lateef Sofolahan, had been convicted by a Lagos High Court for the killing of Mrs. Abiola, wife of late Moshood Abiola, the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections. Both men were freed by the Court of Appeal on Friday.
“Now that Major Al-Mustapha has been vindicated, I urge the government to go after the real Killers of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola,” he said.
The former aide to president Olusegun Obasanjo also said “the people that did this terrible thing are still out there, they haven’t been apprehended, they have not spent one day in jail, and they have never been arraigned of anything, and these are the people that gave the order for the murder,” adding that some of them are in Nigeria while others are outside.
He also said it was easy to find a middle ranking officer and “say he was one of the hatchet men, lock him up and throw the key forever, this is what I think happened in this case.”
Mr. Fani-Kayode said he studied the evidence and knew Mr. Al-Mustapha was innocent of all the charges been preferred against him.
“I have never been pro- Abacha and had always seen Major Al-Mustapha as an adversary, especially during the June 12 years; I was driven into exile at that time, so I am not here to defend the government of Abacha or the conduct of Al-Mustapha while he served the administration.
“But over time, especially since the return to democratic rule, I feel we should be driven by the rule of law in every facets of our life in this country.
“In this case it was very clear to me that an injustice is being done, so whether we were friends or foes before is neither here nor there, the issue was that an innocent man was locked up for 14 years for something he never did, and was even wrongly convicted by a court of law, thankfully the Court of Appeal has risen up to say it was an unjust ruling, and he is a free man again,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
Commendation for the Judiciary, Jonathan
Mr. Fani-Kayode also said Friday’s ruling gave him hope for Nigeria and the judiciary.
“I commend the judges in this matter because I believe it was not easy for them. One can only imagine the kind of pressure they went through, I really commend their courage,” he added.
The former Aviation Minister also commended President Goodluck Jonathan for not interfering in the case, unlike successive regimes in the past.
“I also commend the government under President Goodluck Jonathan for refusing to interfere in the process. We have seen this sort of thing before, if a government wants something bad enough, they know what to do, but this time around, it appears they didn’t get involved and Nigerians should clap for this administration for doing the right thing,” he said.
He also commended people he said who stood by Mr. Al-Mustapha all through the years despite all sort of pressure.
“I commend people like Dr. Faseun, Hon. Rotimi Makinde, who is the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights, Prince Toyin Sijuade, and so many others such as the Arewa Youth Council and Arewa Youth Forum and others.
“I am very happy for Al-Mustapha, his family and all Nigerians on this wonderful day,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.