Two critical characters from the hallways and byways of injustice in Nigeria have quietly stepped into the case of convicted Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the once powerful Chief Security Officer to late dictator General Sanni Abacha.
Observers say their task is to set Mustapha free and frustrate the course of justice for slain democracy heroine, Kudirat Abiola.
Last May, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the lead judge of the Court of Appeal in Lagos withdrew from the appeal instituted by Al Mustapha citing personal reasons, but sources said he was miffed by a high level of interference in the case.
The judge withdrew before the court registrar could announce that a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Joseph B Daudu (SAN) was becoming the lead counsel. Sources told Saharareporters that Mr. Daudu had quietly taken over the lucrative deal of representing Mustapha. Next, Appeal Court judge Amina Augie, stepped in as the lead judge in the case on June 10, she took the briefing of Mr. Daudu and reserved her ruling on the matter indefinitely.
Observers told SaharaReporters the deadly combination of Justice Augie and JB Daudu seems targeted at saving Mustapha’s case and possibly freeing him of culpability for the killing of several pro -democracy activists with the aid of killer squads that were assembled and funded through his office during the Abacha years.
Daudu is no stranger to such jobs: he was the prosecutor handpicked by late General Abacha who served his government in the kangaroo trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 Ogoni activists, leading to the hanging of the activists on November 10, 1995.
Both Daudu and Augie were also later involved in the conspiracy to free former Delta State governor James Ibori from his first corruption trial in Kaduna in 2008. As the lead judge in the Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal, it was Justice Augie who ruled that the former Delta state governor be returned for trial in the jurisdiction where he committed the offense of fraud, namely, his home state. That ruling paved the way for the Delta State government and the Federal High Court to collaborate to set up a kangaroo court headed by Justice Marcel Awokulehin.
The Federal High Court Asaba was paid for, furnished and staffed by Ibori’s cousin, Governor Emmanuel Udughan. The court didn’t waste time in clearing Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
It would be remembered that Ibori then became a free man, and was only forced to account for his crimes after he fled to Dubai, from where he was extradited to the United Kingdom for trial. To forestall possible humiliation in the Court of Appeal, Justice Augie had been posted ahead to the Benin Division to prepare to deliver Ibori before the former governor took matters into his own hands and slipped away to Dubai.
Al Mustapha and James Ibori served general Abacha in deadly capacities during his terryfying reign. With Ibori reportedly involved in the killing of Pa Alfred Rewane, the main financier of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). After Al Mustapha was arrested and detained for murder Ibori took over the upkeep of his family while he was governor Delta State.
A legal source in Lagos told SaharaReporters that the bizarre nature of the current trajectory of the Mustapha case is that Mr. Daudu, when he represented the son of the late dictator, Mohammed, in the same case during the Olusegun Obasanjo years had pleaded before the Supreme Court that Mustapha was the person responsible for Kudirat’s death. At that time, of course, he was serving as the counsel to Abacha’s son.
After much wheeling and dealing in that case, a five-man panel headed by Justice Alpha Belgore ruled that the mere presence of Abacha’s son at the time that Al Mustapha handed guns for the killing of Kudirat was not sufficient reason to find him guilty. He was set free, leaving Al Mustapha to answer to the crimes alone.
However, a minority ruling by Justice Akintola Olufemi Ejiwunmi described the majority judgment by Belgore as a tyranny of the majority. It held that Abacha son gave the killers of Kudirat Abiola $10k each to flee the country and that he ought to be held culpable.
Also of great importance is that Sergeant Rogers, a key character in the killings of that era who is now paralyzed, did confess at the Oputa panel that it was Al Mustapha who killed Kudirat.
All of the secret maneuvers to free Al Mustapha from the hangman’s noose were kept away from the public until SaharaReporters investigations began to yield fruit.
On 30 January 2012, Al Mustapha was sentenced to death by a Lagos High court judge over the 1996 daylight assassination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 election.
Source: Sahara Reporters