Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline)-- “The defendants are hereby sentenced to the mandatory punishment in accordant to section 319 of the Criminal Code law of Lagos State, they are to be hanged on the neck until they are death”. With these, Justice Mojishola Dada of the Lagos State High Court on Monday convicted and sentenced former Chief Security Officer to the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamaz Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan to death.
In a judgment that took her seven hours to deliver, the judge held that the prosecution was able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt allegations of conspiracy to murder and the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the wife of late businessman, Chief Moshood Abiola against the two convict.
According to her the evidence before the court against Mustapha and Shofolahan was very strong and manifestly reliable and their defence was an after thought which failed to persuade the court to otherwise conclude.
While reviewing evidence in the 13 year old case, the judge had identified two issues for determination, they were: whether the prosecution was able to prove its case of conspiracy against the convict and whether they have been able to discharge the burden of prove on it on the murder charge.
On the issue of conspiracy, the judge held that despite there denier in court, the convict in there earlier statements, which was admitted in evidence after a trial within trial, to the Special Investigative Panel (SIP) showed that they first met in 2005 in Abuja.
She further held that Mustapha at the said meeting recruited Shofolahan, while he was still working as an aid to the late victim of the crime as an informant and also to assist on security issues in Lagos.
Justice Dada also concluded that it was Shofolahan that took Rogers and others to the Abiola household and also identified Kudirat Abiola to her killer for monetary gains.
She described Shofolahan as a viper and a blood thirsty traitor who presented himself to the Abiola family as a friend in the open but at the back dug a big hole for them. He is a gold digger who sold his master for money.
She also held that the contradictions in the testimonies of two of the prosecution witness did not seriously affected their evidence before the court as they maintained throughout their testimony that they killed the victim and that they were send my Al-mustaph to carried out the act.
“The statement of the 1st defendant in court that his sole responsibility was to safe guard the government of Abacha and his family at all cost show that he felt obligated to silence any perceive opposing voice to the administration,” she said.
“He admitted in court that he set up an anti-terrorist force called Strike Force in 1995 to protect his boss against enemies of the government and that he send Rabo Lawal to Lagos to monitor the activities of NADECO.
“He carried himself in such a way as if no one can touch him the documents and video in his procession showed how powerful he was.”
Justice Dada fixed today as judgement day on November 11, 2011, after counsel representing the accused persons, Olalekan Ojo and the Lagos State Solicitor General, Lawal Pedro (SAN) adopted their final written addresses.
Al-Mustaph and Shofolahan were first arraigned before Justice Adetula Alabi in 1999 on a two count charge of conspiracy to murder and the murder of Alhaja Abiola alongside Rabo Lawal and the son of the late dictator, Mohammed Abacha.
While Mohammed Abacha was set free by the Supreme Court in 2001 for lack of sufficient evidence to link him with the crime, Rabo Lawal, who was the head of the mobile police unit attach to the presidential villa, was also discharged for the same reason by Justice Dada in 2011.
The trial started in October 1999 before a Lagos Magistrate court sitting in Ikeja and was later transferred to the Lagos High Court.