Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Court Fixed April 29 for Hearing of Major Al-Mustapha's Appeal

The Court of Appeal Lagos, on Friday fixed April 29 to hear an appeal by Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, sentenced to death for masterminding the murder of late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

Al-Mustapha, who was the Chief Security Officer to the late Gen. Sanni Abacha and Lateef Shofolahan, a Personal Assistant to late Abiola, are challenging their conviction by a Lagos High Court on Jan. 30, 2012.

The appellate court, presided over by Justice Chima Nweze, fixed the hearing date after counsel representing both convicts had applied for a regularisation of their briefs of argument.

Counsel representing the appellants, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Mr Olalekan Ojo, had both applied for leave to file their brief of arguments and serve same on the respondent.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the convicts were arraigned sometime in October 1999, on a four-count charge of conspiracy and murder of Abiola on June 4, 1996 on the Ikosi-Ketu Road.

The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada had found both appellants guilty of the offence and sentenced them to death by hanging.

However, Daudu and Ojo, counsel to both the first and second appellants respectively, appealed against the conviction 24-hours after the sentence.

In the notice of appeal filed by Ojo, the appellants were contending that the death sentence handed by the lower court was unwarranted, unreasonable and a manifest miscarriage of justice.

The appellants further contended that the trial judge erred in law by arriving at the conclusion that they conspired to kill Abiola on June 4, 1996.

The appellants are therefore praying the Court of Appeal to entertain the appeal, set aside the judgment and discharge them of the charges of conspiracy and murder.

NAN further reports that Al-Mustapha's appeal was premised on four grounds, while that of his co-convict (Shofolahan) was hinged on five grounds.

They faulted the trial judge's admissibility of the "contradictory statements" of Barnabas Jabila (aka Sgt. Rogers) and Mohmamed Abdul, and the reliance on the testimony of Dr Ore Falomo on the bullet extracted from the corpse.

The appellants also faulted the rejection of portions of Jabila's testimony which they felt favoured them and applying only areas which did not favour them.

NAN

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