Lagos secures order to re-open Kudirat’s murder case against Al-Mustapha
Lagos State government yesterday secured an order of the Supreme Court to re-open the murder case of the late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, against Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (rtd), former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Military Head of State, Sani Abacha.
Kudirat was the wife of the late businessman and politician, Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election that was annulled by former President Ibrahim Babangida.
Supreme Court in its brief ruling on the application filed by Lagos State for permission to re-open the case out of time granted the request for the state to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision of July 12, 2013, which discharged and acquitted Al-Mustapha from the murder case.
Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, in the ruling of a panel of seven justices, ordered Lagos State to file its notice of appeal within 30 days.
The decision of Justice Onnoghen on the Lagos application argued by Osunsanya Oluwayemisi, a senior state counsel in the Lagos Ministry of Justice followed the consent of Al-Mustapha’s counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), not to oppose the application.
The acting CJN stated that by the decision of the apex court, the time for Lagos to appeal against the findings of the court of appeal on the celebrated murder case has been extended from July 12, 2013 when the appeal court judgment was delivered till yesterday.
By granting the permission, the coast is now clear for Lagos State to challenge the ‘not guilty’ verdict granted in favour of the ex-military officer by the court of appeal almost in 2013.
In the new move to re-open the case, Lagos State government had sought to file a notice of appeal out of the time at the Supreme Court, asking for the permission of the court to allow it to challenge the appeal court findings of Justices Amina Adamu Augie, Rita Nosakhare Pemu and Fatimo Omoro Akinbami on ground of miscarriage of justice in the matter.
The state had in the application, prayed the apex court to allow it to exercise its constitutional right to test the validity and correctness of the decision of the appeal court.
It claimed that it wanted to raise its ground of appeal on arguable legal and factual issues, especially the question of whether there was any direct or circumstantial evidence establishing the guilt passed on Al-Mustapha in the murder case.
It also justified its lateness in filing the appeal on the ground that it set up two legal teams to review the circumstances of the case and the verdict of the court of appeal.
It added that it took a long time for the two legal teams to present their findings and recommend that an appeal case can be filed and sustained.Lagos State Government said that it will ask the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the court of appeal, which on July 12, 2013 discharged and acquitted Major Al-Mustapha in the murder case of late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
In place of the Appeal Court decision, Lagos State government said it would plead with the apex court to uphold and restore the death by hanging sentence placed on Al-Mustapha.
In the judgment of the high court delivered on January 30, 2012 by Justice Moji Dada, the accused persons were found culpable as charged and sentenced them to death by hanging.
However at the Court of Appeal approached by Al-Mustapha on April 27, 2012, for the review of the trial and the conviction, the three-member appellate court justices in a unanimous judgment of July 12, 2013 voided the decision of the high court, set it aside and discharged and acquitted the accused.
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