In response to the sponsored articles written by one Haruna Mohammed (Former Press Secretary to Former Head of State, Gen Abdul-Salami Abubakar) in Daily Trust and The Nation newspapers, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha remarks were;
"Ignorance is power. And it is most unfortunately being exhibited by the Master (Gen Abubakar) and his media errand boy (Haruna Mohammed) in their display of childish and shallow-minded articles. Al-Mustapha further said he hoped they wouldn't push him into a direct reply that might steer the arena into greater dust. He added that "If staying in Nigeria as a patriot is what they are calling "foolishness" and taking bold steps to avert national crisis by a military officer when bigger elephants went into hiding is what Haruna referred to as "lacking in strategic planning", then I'm happy to do many more should the situation call for such sacrifices. A sound deduction of their sponsored articles only present the kleptomaniac nature of the duo as they rightly exhibited from June 1998 to May 1999 (most destructive period of Nigeria's history ever), he further added.
In a recent interview granted by Dr Frederick Fasehun (who has always followed the Al-Mustapha case and can be said to have a firsthand knowledge of the facts of the case) and published by Sunday Guardian of September 11, 2011(even though the paper was never circulated throughout the country that day for some reasons which are yet to come to light). Could the entire publication have been bought? The online version on the newspaper's website could also not be accessed simply because it never made it to the internet. Below is the full text of that interview;
Contradictions In The Al-Mustapha Case: By Dr. Frederick Fasehun
Why would a notable Yoruba personality like Dr. Frederick Fasehun want to "stain" himself, canvassing for the freeing of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, Chief Security Officer (CSO) to General Sani Abacha, whose regime twice detained him?
Basically I got interested in the case because hard evidence at my disposal unequivocally shows that the case has been built on a long line of inconsistencies and injustices. At a stage, it stopped making sense to me that the State should dilly-dally for 13 years prosecuting a man it has firmly in its net, with all the apparatuses the State has at its disposal, if indeed he was guilty as charged? If we have not been able to finish him off in 13 years, how many more years do we need to nail Al-Mustapha? What if at the end of the day, a Judge discharges him, how can we live with our conscience knowing that we have only wasted the life of this officer and gentleman?
Inconsistencies! What inconsistencies?
On the charges of killing the Late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha has consistently maintained his innocence. What have not been consistent and have kept changing like the chameleon are the testimonies of witnesses lined up to testify against him. I will return to this shortly.
People think the Prosecution does not know what it is doing.
It looks to me like the State is indulging in "fishing." Agents of the State are throwing hooks of accusations into the water, trying to see which one would score a catch. In December 2010, after 12 years of incarceration and legal tussle, Justice Muftau Olokooba of Lagos High Court, Tafawa Balewa Square, acquitted and discharged Major Hamza Al-Mustapha of the attempted murder of Chief Alex Ibru, Publisher of The Guardian. Remember that when the Kudirat killing first occurred, investigators tried to rope in Abraham Adesanya, Ganiyu Dawodu, Ayo Adebanjo, who were all arrested long before the conceptualisation of any criminal proceedings on the assassination. To me, all this looks like fishing.
Justice delayed is justice denied. However, some have said the entire trial has been dragged and delayed by the many adjournments and trial-within-trial instigated by Al-Mustapha himself.
Acknowledged that some of those adjournments were indeed sought by Al-Mustapha, the Prosecution has initiated several of those adjournments on the excuse of searching for the one piece of evidence or another, or for inability to access one Witness or another. However, in a criminal case, Defendants and Prosecutors are equally entitled to make application for adjournments. So Al-Mustapha cannot then be blamed for the one sought by other Defendants and the Prosecution. For example, the Prosecution took 18 months to get a particular Witness to give evidence.
Then shouldn't one get worried about the Alfred Rewane Syndrome?
After years and years of prosecuting the wrong people, a Lagos Judge earlier this year finally set free Lucky Igbinovia, Elvis Idenuma and Effiong Elemi, part of the stewards, guards, servants and others arrested for the October 15, 1995 murder of Pa Alfred Rewane, my fellow NADECO Member. In the meantime, four of the original Accused had died while awaiting trial. And the wives of the suspects had abandoned their home and children and remarried other men. It is that same office that unproductively prosecuted Rewane's aides that are currently prosecuting Al-Mustapha. It took 15 years of wasted time, money and lives to secure that verdict on the Rewane case. Who will compensate those men for all their loses?
What of the damning evidence preferred against Al-Mustapha by Sergeant Rogers, who supposedly pulled the trigger which killed Alhaja Kudirat?
Both Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Msheila (alias"Sergeant Rogers") and the so-called driver who took him to the killing site gave evidence on how they were recruited to come to Court and lie against all the Defendants in all the cases that Al-Mustapha is being tried for. Evidence has been adduced before the Court, after 10 years of rigmarole, that he did not assign Rogers to kill Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. Actually, Sergeant Roger has an iron-cast alibi placing him in Abuja on the day Alhaja Kudirat Abiola died. In the statement, he wrote to investigators, Rogers had alleged he was briefed in Abuja on the 4th of June 1996. He immediately came to Lagos on the same day, did surveillance with Mr Lateef Shofolahan, was led to Lagos by the team leader, Rabo Lawal (the second Defendant whom the Judge has discharged and acquitted because he has no case to answer) and he killed Alhaja Abiola by around 11am on the same day, 4th of June 1996. All this he did within three hours, after traveling down from Abuja to Lagos and doing surveillance on a woman whose itinerary he never knew. Is this even possible by any measure even if Rogers flew a private jet?
Then have you heard the testimony of sergeant Kyari Gadzama, former Orderly to Major Al-Mustapha?
I have, personally. I was in Court when Gadzama took the stand. Gadzama told the Court he saw Rogers at the Presidential Villa 10am on June 4, 1996 (the day Kudirat was killed) when they both went to resume duties and signed out (collected) their arms at the Aguda House Armoury of the Strike Force, the unit they both belonged to. Remember, time was 10am. So how could Sergeant Rogers be in Lagos that same day, killing, Kudiratu, around 11am? But Gadzama also said he was later detained along with Rogers, and Rogers urged him to cooperate with their interrogators. Their interrogators wanted Gadzama to agree with Rogers' purported confessional statement. Rogers too tried to convince Gadzama to play along, in return for some form of compensation. Rogers told Gadzama that he himself had been given a house and promised foreign posting for cooperating. Although Gadzama was subjected to arrest thrice, detained and tortured, he was never told what he was being charged for. The interrogators' sessions with him concentrated on convincing Gadzama to implicate his former boss, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha.
But how do all these bear on the testimony of Rogers?
Such contrary testimonies helped the Defence to cross-examine Rogers as to the veracity of his claim to being the killer of Mrs. Abiola. Somehow, his statements failed to add up. Upon realizing that the game was up, Rogers broke down and cried in the open Court. Then he begged all the Defendants for forgiveness. He stated how he and the other State Prosecution Witnesses had been co-opted into lying against the Defendants. He stated that he and others had agreed to the Prosecution's plan because they were promised 10 percent of General Abacha's recovered loot of $4billion. Do remember that at the beginning of the trial, Abacha's son, Mohammed, was one of the Defendants. These facts are supported by the records of Court Proceedings on 9th September 2009.
Why would Rogers lie?
Roger's statement before the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) was that he killed Alhaja Kudirat. But he has made several others denying that he killed her. According to these new statements, Rogers said he had concocted the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) statement under duress and near-fatal torture. Other credible witness have corroborated this position. Rogers gave accounts of how he was tortured for two weeks by the SSS. He recounted the threat to his life that if he refused to do what they wanted he would be released, but killed. For this reason, he had no option than to change his statement to reflect the sensationalism that the Press has circulated in the past 10 years. Furthermore, Sergeant Rogers has stated on oath in open Court, how at the investigation stage the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Attorney-General of Lagos State actually conceptualized what he should continue to say before the public and in Court. (In a civilized world, neither the Attorney-General of the state nor any of the Prosecution team would participate in the investigation period of a crime). In furtherance to the promise of the 10 percent of Abacha's $4 billion loot, Rogers has since been given a house, while his wife and family members have been given cash rewards and employment by the Federal Government as appreciation for his co-operation.
How have the Courts assessed Sergeant Rogers and his testimonies?
Sergeant Rogers' second statement before the court came through the Prosecution team. This rendered worthless all the testimonies he had made on other cases concerning the Defendants. Some have been freed on that basis, including General Ishaya Bamaiyi, Mr James Danbaba, Alhaji Mohammed Rabo Lawal and Col. Jubril Bala Yakubu. Furthermore, three different High Courts and the Court of Appeal (four courts in all) have pronounced that the statement is too inconsistent to be true. Up till now, no Court in the land has found the testimony of Sergeant Rogers credible. His testimony as a Witness indicting the Accused has been ruled by three High Courts and the Court of Appeal to be worthless and false.
What of the testimony of Mohamed Abdul "Katako" the Driver they said drove the vehicle that took Rogers to the killing?
Mohamed Abdul "Katako" was the Second Prosecution Witness (PW2). His role was to claim to be the Driver of the vehicle that took Sergeant Rogers to the spot where Rogers killed Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. PW2, Katako, also broke down in the open Court and wept, begging the Defendants for forgiveness after he was confronted with inconsistencies in his statement. Firstly, Katako under cross-examination did not know the location of the landmark "7UP" in Lagos. Secondly, he could not say what type of car he drove on the said day. Thirdly, he was never in Lagos throughout the month of June 1996. Fourthly, and most astoundingly, on the D-Day and at the Time-T, when Alhaja Kudirat was being killed on the 4th June 1996, Katako was publicly getting married to his first wife in Azare, Bauchi State.
Despite all these and many more evidences presented to the Court, the learned Judge threw out the Defence Counsel's no-case presentation and ruled that Al-Mustapha should enter his defence.
The question is : Why is Major Hamza being prosecuted for the killing of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola? Al-Mustapha thinks that he is in trouble for what he witnessed while handing over as the CSO in The Presidency. In that process, he witnessed unusual acts inimical to the interest of the Nation. He recorded such acts for future references. This he said angered those people involved and they have put him in jail since then, in order to silence him. It was in that spirit he tendered in Court a memo signed by the Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and the National Security Adviser, Abdullahi Mohammed. Al-Mustapha got the memo through a counter-espionage photocopier in Aso Rock. The memo NSA/A/320/5 ordered cash withdrawals ($200 million, £75 million and N500 million) from the Central Bank, intended for Yoruba VIPs to douse protests in the South-West following MKO's death on July 7, 1998. Interestingly, Abuja Mirror Publisher, Abidden Coomassie, who wanted to go public with the memo (after it was passed to him by a CBN source) was poisoned before he could publish. " I was there when the money was brought in brown buses. I witnessed it when the buses containing the money were being offloaded, " Al-Mustapha says.
But Al-Mustapha says he has more of such video evidence.
Not just video, he has audio recordings, documents and much more. But he has always maintained: "I wish to say that I will omit any issue that will affect the national security of the country as a serving officer of the Nigerian Army". All these pieces of evidence are in safe places within and outside the country. But I guess social responsibility and national interest prevents him from releasing the more shocking and inflammatory ones. They will go public if anything happens to him. So his death will not bury these shocking revelations, in case they try to kill him.
How about other witnesses? What do we say about those charged with Al-Mustapha and who have since been discharged to go home?
Not a few witness who were supposed to shed light on this case have died in rather mysterious circumstances. Testimonies in Court stated that former Commander of Aso Rock Unit of the Mobile Police, Mohammed Rabo Lawal and the former Chief of Defense Staff Aminu Mohammed were initially recruited to be used as Prosecution Witnesses. But because they refused to co-operate with the anti-Al-Mustapha setup, they ended up being charged along with Al-Mustapha for offences they never knew nothing about. For instance, Rabo Lawal was in Libya on the day Alhaja Kudirat died, but he was tortured to state that he was in Lagos. After initial resistance to this perfidy, he caved in and accepted to do so. Furthermore, the Court has since set him and Aminu free.
Why I Am Concerned
What do all these have to do with the Doctrine of Collective Responsibility?
Undoubtedly, General Abacha's era continues to spin a lot of puzzles. But attributing all the mistakes of that era to a Major, who was at best a tangential personal assistant to the Head of State, and was never an integral part of the administration, and making him the fall-guy, stands logic on its head. In the name of "Governmental Collective Responsibility," where are the plethora of actors in that regime Armed Forces Chiefs, members of the Ruling Council, Ministers, judges, lawyers and politicians at that time? Where are all those other members and friends of that regime who have today joined the crowd of politicians and who are playing politics in this dispensation? Where are they all?
What of that rigmarole that Al-Mustapha went through recently, maligning Yoruba leaders? What did he hope to achieve?
His defence on the murder case was a categorical denial of the accusation. Al-Mustapha tried to prove with oral and video testimonies that because of his love and respect for Bashorun MKO Abiola (husband of the woman he is facing trial for killing), he protected Abiola throughout his period of incarceration. Not just that, he personally facilitated the Late Kudirat's clandestine visits to the husband? So, why would he turn around to kill the woman?
What is the weight of the testimony of ASP Zadok?
The testimony of the Assistant Superintendent of Police made before the Oputa Panel 10 years ago is illustrative. ASP Zadok was directly in charge of Late Bashorun MKO Abiola's welfare. Despite the fact that Bashorun MKO Abiola was facing trial for treason (which carries a death sentence), Zadok testified that Major Al-Mustapha did not treat him like a criminal or an enemy of State. ASP Zadok testified that Major Al-Mustapha used to personally hand over a cash sum of N800,000 per quarter as Bashorun Abiola's feeding allowance. And Al-Mustapha had the politician harboured in a flat located in a well-secured area of Abuja. Furthermore, ASP Zadok's testimony at the Oputa Panel captured Al-Mustapha's continued concern for the safety of Bashorun Abiola. Therefore, Al-Mustapha instructed Abiola to be moved periodically to ensure his safety. He was also a regular visitor to Abiola in detention and they spent hours together. Abiola thus came to trust Al-Mustapha immensely. And if anything major was to be done with regard to him, he would feel comfortable only if the personnel in charge assured him that Al-Mustapha was aware.
What does this prove?
It was widely published in those days, how Bashorun Abiola was remanded in Gashua Prison by a Court Order. He complained that the treatment in the prison was harsh. Thereafter, the Abacha government moved him to Abuja. How can one CSO be responsible for the arresting and Court-remanding Bashorun? Subsequently, Al-Mustapha said he took MKO's Security and welfare as paramount. And I believe him. If he was the all-powerful CSO as his detractors claim, then one word from him should have set the man free. But others in the regime had an axe to grind with MKO and the best the man charged with his security could do was ensure he pre-empted any intrigue that could do in the Detainee. And this he did effectively and efficiently. The constant movements to safety ensured that the man survived the Abacha regime. And Abiola remained alive as long as Al-Mustapha remained in charge. The minute Al-Mustapha lost control, Abiola lost his life.
But how do we access the role of the Attorneys-General?
Witness in this case said in open Court that some incriminating statements they made were as dictated by both the Federal and Lagos State Attorneys-General and by investigators. These are weighty allegations. They must not be swept under the carpet. They must be investigated by the NBA, the NJC and the government. And anyone indicted must pay for the role he played.
Al-Mustapha remains a dangerous fellow even from prison. Remember how he tried to overthrown Obasanjo's regime!
This was plainly a wild and desperate ploy to give Al-Mustapha a bad name and hang him by all means . He was investigated for coup plotting and "security breaching" during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo all these from prison! The allegations were pegged on the spurious "proof" that Al-Mustapha gave N250,000 to a Lieutenat in the Army through a young man. The Lieutenant was supposed to use the amount to purchase five Stinger Missiles and recruit mercenaries from Benin Republic, and assign them to shoot down the President's plane, they would then take over Government. Mustapha allegedly put this plot together while in prison for N250,000? haba! Even cursory research through the Internet will reveal that one Stinger Missile cost about $130,000 (N19.5 million). Furthermore, it is strictly sold on government-to-government purchase and cannot be acquired through the Black Market. And of course, the government was so embarrassed by this half-baked case that it voluntarily withdrew all charges.
Bottom-line: So, who killed Kudirat?
Honestly, that question gives me real headache. While we drag the Al-Mustapha matter, the trail is getting cold and the real killers are escaping further and further the long arm of justice. However, fortunately, murder is neither statute nor time-barred. One day, justice will be done Mrs. Kudirat Abiola just as it will be done for Bola Ige, Funsho Williams, Marshall Harry, Odunayo Olagbaju, Ogbonnaya Uche, Theodore Agwatu, Barnabas and Abigail Igwe, Aminasoari Dikibo, Philip Olorunnipa, Ayo Daramola and MKO Abiola.
Who killed Abiola?
I can't pretend to know. But let me echo Dr. Ore Falomo (Abiola's personal Physician): " I have always said that General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Head of State when Abiola died) cannot claim not to know anything about Abiola's death. He had a month to allow NADECO and me (to) see Abiola and he didn't" (Tell, 22nd August 2011)
What is my motive? Why do I bother?
Social justice. Nigerian delight in licking only the oiled finger, not a bloodied and withered one. Failure is an orphan here. But nations cannot be built on this characteristic of opportunism, individualism and injustice. Then I remember the famous quote from Martin Niemoller (1892-1984);
"First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."
It is Major Al-Mustapha facing injustice today, who knows whose turn it will be tomorrow?