The long trial of former chief security officer to the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Shofolahan came to an end today in Lagos.
The duo, standing trial over the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of late business mogul and presumed winner of the 12th June 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola were sentenced to death by hanging.
Presiding Justice Mojisola Dada said the evidence before the court was weighty, showing truly that the accused men murdered Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on 4th June 1996 in Lagos.
Al-Mustapha who has been in custody since 1999 was found to have been assisted by Alhaji Shofolahan, an aid to the late Kudirat Abiola to carry out the heinous act.
According to the court findings, Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan met between March 1996 and 4thJune of same year at the National Theater, Iganmu, Lagos to plan the assassination. The findings revealed further that the first witness, Barnabas Jabila also known as Sergeant Rogers confirmed that the murder was plotted at the National Theater in Lagos. Jabila had confessed that his former boss, Al-Mustapha handed over his personal gun to him for the operation.
The court however ruled that “the defendants are accordingly sentenced to death by hanging until they are pronounced dead”.
Meanwhile, there was jubilation in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital and home town of the Abiolas where people waited patiently for the judgment.
Daughter of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Hafsat Abiola-Costelo hailed the long awaited judgment. Hafsat, founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), a non-governmental organization founded to immortalise Kudirat Abiola said in Abeokuta that “the judiciary is the last hope of the common man”.
Sympathisers and friends of the accused were seen outside the court carrying placards showing various messages in the defence of Al-Mustapha whom they would have loved to be released by the court having spent almost twelve years in custody.
Nigerians, especially friends and associates of the Abiolas have continued to hail the judgment and in the days to come Nigerians across all walks of life shall continue to respond to the ruling.