The Lagos State Government has urged the Supreme Court to re-visit the judgment of the Court of Appeal which acquitted Hamza al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan of the murder of Kudirat Abiola.
LASG wants the court to uphold the death sentence passed on al-Mustapha and Shofolahan on January 30, 2012 by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos State High Court.
Kudirat, wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Moshood (MKO) Abiola, was killed in Lagos on June 4, 1996. Both Mr. al-Mustapha, a former chief security officer to then Head of State, Sani Abacha; and Mr. Shofolahan, were on January 30, 2012 sentenced to death by a Lagos State High Court for the murder of the deceased but the Court of Appeal in Lagos on July 12, 2013 discharged and acquitted both men on the grounds of lack of credible evidence.
In the judgment delivered by its bench of three justices led by Amina Augie (now a Justice of the Supreme Court), the Court of Appeal held that the testimonies key witnesses including first prosecution witness, Ore Falomo, and Ahmed Yusuf, the fourth prosecution witness, were irrelevant and unreliable.
The state government filed a 10-ground notice of appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal. The appeal told the Supreme court that the testimonies of its star witnesses, Barnabas Jabila, also known as Sergeant Rogers, and Mohammed Abdul, who had confessed to their roles in the murder, were detailed and consistent.
It claimed that the contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies were not material enough to warrant the decision of the Court of Appeal to disregard their entire evidence. It therefore contended that the Court of Appeal erred in discharging and acquitting al-Mustapha and Shofolahan.
The 10-ground notice of appeal, signed by Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Adeniji Kazeem sought an order of the Supreme Court allowing the appeal, and another “setting aside the judgment of the court below.”
The Lagos State Government argued that the appeal court “erred when it determined that there were material contradictions that rendered the testimony of PW2 (Barnabas Jabila) inconsistent and unreliable”. It insisted that Mr. Jabila, in his testimony before the Lagos State High Court, was consistent and that the details supplied by him were “not materially controverted.”
The Government also faulted the Court of Appeal’s rejection of the testimony of Mr. Abdul. It argued that the Court of Appeal “erred in law when it held that there were material contradictions that rendered the testimony of PW3 unreliable.” It said, “PW3 gave graphic and detailed evidence of the conspiracy to and murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.”