According to reports, the Lagos State Government has asked the Supreme Court to quash the judgment of a Lagos Court of Appeal that acquitted Maj. Hamza al-Mustapha, Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan in the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
Also, the state government has asked the apex court to uphold the death sentence awarded against Mustapha and Shofolahan by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos State High Court on January 30, 2012.
In a report by newsmen, the state government had already filed a notice of appeal before the apex court in Abuja, thereby seeking vacation of the decision of the appellate court on 10 different grounds.
The state government filed the notice of appeal after the Supreme Court granted its request on January 12, 2017 to appeal the judgment of the lower court outside the time frame stipulated by law.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, signed the notice of appeal, seeking an order of the Supreme Court allowing the appeal, and another “setting aside the judgment of the court below.”
In the notice of appeal, the state government argued that the testimonies of its star witnesses, Barnabas Jabila, also known as Sergeant Rogers, and Mohammed Abdul, who had confessed to their roles in the murder, were detailed and consistent.
It claimed that the contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies were not material enough to warrant the decision of the Court of Appeal to disregard their entire evidence.
Aside, the state government argued that the appeal court “erred when it determined that there were material contradictions that rendered the testimony of Barnabas Jabila inconsistent and unreliable.”
The state government insisted that Barnabas Jabila, in his testimony before the Lagos State High Court, was consistent and that the details supplied by him were “not materially controverted.”
On these grounds, it faulted the decision of the appellate court for failing to take into cognisance the testimony of Mohammed Abdul.
It, therefore, argued that the appellate court “erred in law when it held that there were material contradictions that rendered the testimony of Mohammed Abdul unreliable.”
It said Mohammed Abdul gave graphic and detailed evidence of the conspiracy to and murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, thereby contending that the appellate court erred in discharging and acquitting Mustapha and Shofolahan.
Precisely on June 4, 1996, Kudirat, wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola was gruesomely assassinated in Lagos.
After a 12-year long trial before the Lagos State High Court, Justice Dada sentenced both Mustapha and Shofolahan to death on January 30, 2012 for complicity in the murder of Kudirat.
In a lead judgement by Justice Amina Augie, however, the Court of Appeal in Lagos discharged and acquitted both Mustapha and Shofolahan for lack of credible evidence precisely on July 12, 2013
The appellate court held that the testimonies of Ore Falomo, as first prosecution witness, and Ahmed Yusuf, the fourth prosecution witness, were irrelevant and unreliable.
The appellate court also noted that the oral evidence and statements of Barnabas Jabila and Mohammed Abdul had been discredited under cross-examination and were therefore unreliable.