A Lagos Court of Appeal has discharged and acquitted Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State General Sani Abacha, of involvement in the murder of late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
The verdict of the appellate court yesterday nullified the death penalty passed on Al-Mustapha in January 2012 by a Lagos High Court.
Mustapha and personal assistant to the late Kudirat, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, were sentenced to death by hanging having been found liable for the murder on June 4, 1996.
In her lead judgement, Justice Rita Pemu said there was no straight circumstantial locus that Al-Mustapha conspired with anybody to murder the wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
She said the evidence of prosecution witnesses in that regard were not only contradictory but also cannot be validly relied upon.
She posits that Al-Mustapha did not fire the gun and murdered Kudirat Abiola based on the material facts before her court.
She said it was not right for the lower court to have hurriedly convicted the appellants when it was clear that they have a bad case.
She held that Principal Witness 1 (Dr Ore Falomo) testified before the lower court that the bullet extracted from the forehead of the deceased was white but neither produced same for cross examination by the defense team nor appeared in court to prove his case.
She also held that the prosecution called Principal Witness 4 (Investigating Police Officer), who investigated the death of the deceased, but failed to appear before the defense team for cross-examination.
According to her, Principal Witness 2 (Sgt Rogers) and Principal Witness 3 (Mohammed Abdul) claimed in their confessional statement to the police that they were enjoined by the first appellant to kill Kudirat but later retracted them in court
She said:”PW 2 and 3 retracting their earlier statement to the police told the court that they were cajoled by the prosecution to indict the appellant, with a promise to give them monetary compensation.