Major Hamza Al-Mustapha
By Davidson Iriekpen
Twenty-four hours after he was sentenced to death by hanging by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court, the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, has filed an appeal against the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Lagos.
He described his conviction as unreasonable, unwarranted and a clear travesty of justice.
In the notice of appeal, which was filed at exactly 2p.m. yesterday, Al-Mustapha wants the appellate court to set aside the judgment and discharge him of all the count charge of conspiracy to murder and murder.
Justice Dada had in a judgment which lasted for about seven hours on Monday, sentenced Al-Mustapha to death by hanging for conspiring with others to kill Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.
Justice Dada had, while handing down the verdict, held that the prosecution successfully proved that Al-Mustapha and a former protocol officer to Abiola, Lateef Shofolahan, conspired with others to kill Kudirat on June 4, 1996.
But Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan are insisting in the notice of appeal filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, that Justice Dada erred in law by arriving at the conclusion that they conspired to kill Kudirat.
While Al-Mustapha’s appeal was anchored on four grounds, that of his co-convict (Shofolahan) was hinged on five grounds.
In ground one, Al-Mustapha submitted that the lower court erred in law by holding that the contradictions in the evidence of Barnabas Jabila (a.k.a Sgt Rogers) and Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako) were immaterial, when the same judge had earlier held that both Sgt Rogers and Katako recanted their evidence-in-chief under cross-examination, and also when the prosecution had conceded in its final address that the two key witnesses were not credible, having repudiated their earlier testimonies.