The group also wants the North to moderate celebrations on the former CSO’s release.
A group, Human Rights Writers’ Association, HURIWA, has called on the National Judicial Council, NJC, to investigate the conduct of the team of prosecutors from the Lagos Judiciary who handled the proceedings in the case between the Lagos State Government and Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, on the killing of Kudirat Abiola. Mrs. Abiola was the wife of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola.
Mr. Al-Mustapha, an army major and Lateef Shofolahan, a former aide to Mrs. Abiola, were discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, last Friday, over the murder.
The rights group, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, on Monday, said the investigation should determine whether the prosecution team compromised the trial of the Messrs Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan which may have resulted in the eventual alleged miscarriage of justice by the Appellate Court.
It also canvassed public hearing of the probe by the National Judicial Council because of the sensitivity of the matter and because of overriding public interest in the matter which touches the constitutional bedrock of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
“It is the belief of the Rights group that Government and the hierarchy of the nation’s judiciary cannot afford to overlook the groundswell of allegations of professional misconduct against the prosecution team in the trial of the just released erstwhile Chief Security Officer to the late military ruler-Major Al-Mustapha”, HURIWA said.
The group urged the Lagos State judiciary to consider the overall public interest before deciding expeditiously whether or not it would institute an appeal before the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the Court of Appeal.
HURIWA said in the event that the Lagos State Government determined that it was not in the public interest to appeal the judgement then the state government in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria must work out and implement transparent civil financial compensation package to be paid to the direct and immediate family members and next -of- kin of Mrs. Abiola and her husband who are considered national martyrs of democracy.
It also urged different interest groups and Northern State Governments to respect the departed souls of Mr. and Mrs. Abiola by moderating and also avoiding the sensational celebration of the court- sanctioned release of Mr. Al-Mustapha, because according to it, “it is a sacred fact that these two martyrs of democracy were brutally killed.”
It noted that while his wife may have been killed through suspected state-sponsored assassination by an alleged hit squad, Mr. Abiola was allegedly poisoned to his death in what is seen as an international conspiracy to silence the agitation for the actualization of the outcome of the June 12 1993 election which was annulled illegally by the then military dictator.
HURIWA argued that the fact that the Appeal Court freed Mr. Al-Mustapha did not mean that Mrs. Abiola was not killed by alleged state -sponsored killer squad.
The rights group said it was shameful that many Nigerian patriots are killed by assassins and yet the Government is incapable and/or unwilling to bring the murderers to swift justice thereby continuously creating atmosphere of impunity.
It stated further, “We in the human rights community have the greatest respect to the integrity of the nation’s judiciary but we are also very conscious of the fact that as an institution run by human beings who are imperfect, there are possibilities of compromise and other attributes of corruption and bribery.
“We therefore use this medium to ask that the Federal Government and the National Judiciary Council to suo moto cause the transparent investigation of the just concluded proceedings in both the Lagos state High Court of Justice and the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria on the alleged murder of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola in which the Chief Security Officer of the late General Sani Abacha was indicted and prosecuted resulting in his eventual conviction at the first court of instance and then the recent acquittal and discharge from the charges by the Court of Appeal of the duo of Major Al-Mustapha and an aide to the late Abiola Mr. Sofolahan.”
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