Mr. Al-Mustapha’s lawyer said Nigerians should blame the prosecutors who bungled the case.
Counsel to Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, has urged Nigerians to place the blame for the failure to get justice on the murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of MKO Abiola, after almost two decades, on the prosecution, who chose to gamble rather than provide convincing evidence before the court on the matter.
Lekan Ojo, who fielded questions from journalist in Ibadan at the weekend over the uproar that greeted the acquittal of his client in the murder, said the prosecutors were arguing a bad case before the judges ab initio.
“I will say that first and foremost, the case was poorly investigated, the initiation of the investigation was politically motivated,”Mr. Ojo said.
“Like the Court of Appeal said, why should there be a special investigation panel consisting of the members of the Directorate of the Military Intelligence (DMI), members of the SSS, members of the Nigerian Army, members of the Police to investigate a case of murder against the Criminal Code of Lagos State?
“But, the late Gen. Abacha was the target and anybody that was close to the late Gen. Sani Abacha must of necessity be made to explain why such thing took place during the regime. Because of the poor/shoddy investigation, the prosecution was equally handicapped.
“The prosecution can only prosecute with the evidence or with the materials made available to them. No IPO was ever called as a witness in that case, no IPO testified, the only police officer that testified did not take part in the investigation of the case.
“Secondly, the bullet that was said to have been extracted from the head of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was never tendered in court, even, if you cannot tender the bullet, there could have been a ballisticians’ report, no ballistician’s report was tendered, no ballistician was called. These and many others showed, as far as I’m concerned that the prosecution was just gambling”, the counsel said.
He said he was shocked by the torrent of condemnation rained on the judgment despite the efforts of the jurors to ensure that their positions were strictly based on law and devoid of politics, emotions, gossips or any other sentimental consideration.
Before the Appellate Court absolved him and his associates of wrongdoing, Mr. Al-Mustapha had remained in prison custody for almost fifteen years, standing trial for the controversial murder of the late Abiola’s widow.
But, according to Mr. Ojo, the acquittal was not without judicial precedent, wondering why Mr. Al-Mustapha’s case was widely condemned.
“One thing that has worried me is this, Major Al Mustapha is not the first person, there were sister cases. In the case of attempted murder of Pa Abraham Adesanya, there was an acquittal by the same Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, nobody quarreled with that.
“Gen. Bamaiyi was discharged and acquitted by Hon. Justice Oyewole over the alleged attempted murder of Chief Alex Ibru, nobody quarreled with that. The former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, James Dambaba, Col Yakubu, the first Military Administrator of Zamfara State were discharged and acquitted by Hon. Justice Olokooba of the same High Court of Lagos State in respect of the alleged attempted murder of Alex Ibru, nobody quarreled, so, I’m at a loss as to why there must have been this kind of torrential condemnation of the judgment just because it is Mustapha”, he said.
While expressing his respect for the sanctity of life, the lawyer noted that the law of the land does not support situation where the law will punished people unjustly.
“The Court of Appeal has said it all. Anybody that reads that judgment will agree with their lordships that justice had been administered according to law and not according to sentiments, not according to gossips, not according to politics.
“Let me emphasize one fact, the death of any human being is a serious matter and there is no reasonable person who would want any perpetrator of such a heinous crime to go unpunished.
“However, it must also be emphasized that it is also important that an innocent person is not punished just because some people think that somebody must be punished for the alleged crime. We all know this legal maxim that it is better for 10 guilty men to escape than for one innocent person to be punished”, he said.
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