Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Al-Mustapha is alive, says lawyer

The former chief security officer to the late Sani Abacha, a dictator who ruled the country between 1993 and 1998 - Hamza Al-Mustapha - is alive and well, says his lawyer. Olalekan Ojo, Mr Al-Mustapha's lawyer, said on telephone yesterday that he spoke with someone "who was with him early today (Monday) while he was playing tennis at the prison."

The fragile peace of Kano city was nearly shattered yesterday when news of the alleged murder of Mr Al-Mustapha at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons broke. A press statement by his younger brother, Hadi, nearly stoked the embers of the fire more when it demanded that the federal government avail the family of the true position on Mr Al-Mustapha's current state.

"For days running, we have been inundated with several calls from well wishers and friends as well as other well-meaning Nigerians that want to ascertain the veracity of the truth of the rumour.
"We have made several unsuccessful attempts to get to the root of the matter. Most worrisome about this matter is that it has thrown the entire family, who are aware of the fact that there is no smoke without fire, into a state of frustration and apprehension," the statement read.

The statement added that the last time they saw Al-Mustapha was when he appeared in the court recently and that since then they had not heard from him.

"The last time we saw Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was in April when he put up one of his several appearances before a Lagos High court. We were already looking forward to his release after his case was closed for lack of witnesses to prove the charges preferred against him.

"Even the Lagos-based Court of Appeal corroborated this when the presiding judge ruled that the witnesses that would have proven the charges against him are all unreliable. This revelation that appears to have absolved Major Al-Mustapha, who has spent 13 years awaiting trial, came to us as a cheering development. We are very worried with the turn of events as we have been forced to call for the intervention of human rights organisations in and outside Nigerians first time."

Not entirely correct

But it appears the family did not give the total picture in its statement as Mr Ojo, the lawyer further claimed that he was with Al-Mustapha last week "and I'm also in touch with his younger brother who was with him last week." When contacted on phone at 5.45pm, Mr Ojo denied that his client had died saying, "It can never be true, because God forbid, if it had been true, I should have known about it in a matter of 30 minutes. I can authoritatively tell you that with what I know and also knowing the last time we were in touch; it is not true and can never be true."

Kano city recently erupted in spasmodic violence after supporters of Muhammadu Buhari, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) presidential candidate went on a rampage over their candidate's loss in the presidential elections of April 16. The Emir of Kano's palace in Dorayi was burnt just as the house of a former House of Representatives speaker, Umar Ghali Na'abba was set on fire. The house of the Galadima of Kano, who allegedly distributed money and fabric on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, was also burnt down.


Mr Al-Mustapha was arrested on October 22, 1998 and has since been in and out of the courts. He was arrested and arraigned in court for allegedly killing Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, and former internal affairs minister, Alex Ibru.

He was recently acquitted of the murder charges in Mr Ibru's case.

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