The Lagos State government yesterday secured an order of the Supreme Court to re-open the murder case of late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, against Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (rtd), the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Military Head of State General Sani Abacha.
The late Kudirat Abiola was the wife of the late businessman cum politician, Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election that was annulled by former President Ibrahim Babangida.
In a brief ruling on Thursday, on the application brought by the Lagos State government to re-open the case, the apex court granted the request for the appellant to challenge the Court of Appeal decision of July 12, 2013 that discharged and acquitted Al-Mustapha from the murder case.
But reacting to the court’s decision, Chairman of the Arewa Young Lawyers Forum (AYLF), Mr. Sadiq Abubakar Ilela, who witnessed the proceedings, hailed the ruling.
Ilela, who said he was in court with some members of his group to show support for Al-Mustapha, said the leave granted Lagos would allow the court to determine the case on merit.
“We were in court to show support to the respondents. We believe in the rule of law.
“We are convinced that, with the ruling, parties now have the opportunity to present their cases before the court to enable them make an informed decision and determine the case on merit,” Ilela said.
A seven-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court headed by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, 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 lawyer, Mr. Joseph Dauda SAN, not to oppose the application.
The acting CJN said 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 the granted permission, the coast has been cleared for the Lagos to challenge the no guilty verdict granted in favour of the ex military officer by the Court of Appeal almost four years ago.
In the new move to re-open the case, the 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 mis-carriage 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 wants to raise its ground of appeal on arguable legal and factual issues especially the question of whether there is any direct or circumstantial evidence establishing the guilt passed on Al-Mustapha in the murder case.
- Source – The Sun