16 February 2013

Nigeria: Court to Hear Al-Mustapha's Death Sentence Appeal

The Court of Appeal, Lagos will on April 29, hear an appeal filed by the former Chief Security Officer to late General Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, and the former Personal Assistant to late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Lateef Shofolahan.

They are appealing against a death sentence handed them by a Lagos High Court, on January 30 2012, after they were convicted on a charge of masterminding the murder of late Mrs Kudirat Abiola.

The Court, presided over by Justice C.C Nweze fixed the date for hearing of the appeal, after counsels representing both convicts had applied for a regularisation of their briefs of argument.

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

Justice Nweze had granted both counsels order as prayed and adjourned the case to April 29 for hearing.

The convicts were arraigned sometime in October 1999, on a four-count charge of "conspiracy and murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996 along the Lagos/ Ibadan Expressway."

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

However, Daudu and Ojo, counsel to both the first and second appellant respectively, had appealed to the court of appeal, 24-hours after the sentencing of the convicts, challenging the death sentence.

The appellants are contending that the death sentence handed by the lower court was unwarranted.

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

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

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

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