I received the news of Al-Mustapha’s acquittal by the court of appeal with mixed feelings. I am happy that the system of due process, of democratic resort to the law court, for redress, is working. Had the judgment of the Hon Jus Mojisola Dada, of the Lagos High Court, that sentenced him to death, been delivered in 1994 when Al-Mustapha was CSO to late Gen Sani Abacha, he would have been executed by now. It is indeed gratifying that Al-Mustapha is now benefitting from the same judiciary that he worked tirelessly to annihilate.
Thus, I cannot take the acquittal as a verdict of clearance for Al-Mustapha. I personally tasted of the madness, of the wickedness and deprivations that Gen Abacha and Al-Mustapha subjected Nigerians to, when I was incarcerated in solitary confinement at the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Apapa, for nine months without trial. The judgment of Hon Just I.N. Auta, that I should be released, was ignored and derided by Al-Mustapha and his co-dictators. But today, he was released from Kirikiri prisons the same day the judgment was delivered.
If it is indeed true that there was no evidence before the court linking him with the charges, or there’s any doubt in the case of the prosecution, then he is entitled to the liberty of man. But that is not the end of the case, at all. There is the judgment of man, judgment of self (conscience) and the judgment of God. It is clear to me that MKO Abiola, Kudirat Abiola and all other martyrs, who gave up their lives and liberties for this present democracy, have not died or laboured in vain.
I commend the Lagos State Government and especially those lawyers at the Ministry of Justice, who have followed all these cases. I urge the government to appeal against the judgment to the Supreme Court.
The ultimate lesson that al-Mustapha and other enemies of democracy should learn is that dictatorship does not pay, and that in the end of it all, we should allow democracy, freedom of choice and genuine aspirations, which Kudirat paid for with her life, to reign.