An Appeal Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria has discharged and acquitted Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha, the former chief security officer to the late General Sani Abacha of conspiracy to murder Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
In a lead judgment read by Justice Rita Pemu and agreed by two other judges Aminat Augie and Fatimah Akinbanmi, the Court of Appeal said the case was not properly investigated and that prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The prosecution listed 12 potential witnesses but managed to call only four witnesses. The first prosecution witness was Dr Ore Falomo, the second is Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Mshiela aka Sergeant Rogers. The third one is Dagama Katako, while a retired police officer, Ahmed Fari Yusuf is the fourth witness.
In assessment of the verdict of the lower court, the appellant court said the lower court did not evaluate properly the evidence brought before it.
The appelate Court averred the ballistic expert report was not tendered before the court,that there were contradictions in the evidence of Sergeant Rogers and one of Katako who were prosecution witness two and three.
The appeal Court also ruled that the bullet that was removed from the head of Alhaja Abiola Kudirat when she was killed was said to be a special bullet. This was what Dr Falomo told the court but the said bullet was not tendered as exhibit in court as police took away the bullet and never returned it.
Regarding the evidence of Ahmed Fari Yusuf, the court said his evidence was not reliable as he did not show up again in court for him to be crossed-examined. This is against the law of fair hearing, the appelate Court ruled.
Consequently, his evidence was supposed to have been disregarded. In view of the totality of the evidence before the court, there is nothing linking Al Mustapha with the killing of Kudirat Abiola as he was not the one that pulled the trigger that killed Kudirat Abiola.
The appellate court further said the court is not interested in the political undertone of the case and consequently discharged and acquitted Al- Mustapha.
Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan, the late Kudirat’s aide, was also discharged and acquitted on similar grounds.