Thursday, August 11, 2011

Al-Mustapha retracts 1999 statement

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Major Hamza Al-Mustapha
At a Lagos High Court on Thursday, Maj. Hamza Al-Mustapha turned arround to retract the statement he had said he made under involuntary conditions, to say the statement was not his.

The former chief security aide to the Late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, and Lateef Shofolahan, are both standing trial for the murder of Kudirat Abiola.

Shofolahan was a personal aide to Kudirat, wife of MKO Abiola.

Al-Mustapha told the court presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada that the statement was that of Special Investigative Panel before whom he appeared in 1999.

Justice Dada had ruled on Wednesday that the prosecution led by Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), had the right to cross-examine the witness on the statement.

When asked to read the statement, during Thursday’s proceeding, Al-Mustapha said, “I am reading SIP statement. My Lord, I am not a lawyer, with due respect, but my little understanding of law, I am reading SIP statement.
“I was badly subjected to torture that involved my father, my younger brother, my younger brother and my immediate family. It involved both physical and psychological torture.

“I want it to be on record my Lord that I said it was the SIP that said that taking the statement or the dictation was their own visa to bring us to Lagos, not my own visa to come to Lagos. Having laid this foundation, I read the SIP statement.”

The court had earlier admitted the statement as exhibit after over-ruling Ojo’s objection to tendering the document.

His counsel, Olalekan Ojo, had objected cross-examining his client on the statement, saying he (Al-Mustapha) made the statement “under involuntary conditions”, having been subjected to torture to write it.

Dismissing Ojo’s objection to tendering the document as exhibit, Justice Dada said, “The court has already ruled that the statement under contention, marked ID2 is not confessional in nature, therefore the need to call for a trial within trial is eliminated.

“The witness denied the content of the statement as his but that of the SIP and that it was dictated to him by the SIP.

“This is therefore the retraction of the whole document and can be distinguished from the circumstances under which Exhibit P4 is admitted.

“As I have said earlier the scenario has changed from that of yesterday, the issue of admissibility was not an issue and the main essence of the objection has been defeated.”

She held that “Document ID2 is admitted as Exhibit PR3 before this court. Whether the witness made the statement or not is yet to be determined by the court.”

The content of the statement showed contradictions between his claim in oral evidence, concerning his relationship with Shofolahan.

The former Chief Security Officer was said to have made the statement before the SIP in 1999, convened under the leadership of Col. Kayode Are, the then Director-General of the State Security Service.

Despite the ruling of the court, saying the statement was not confessional, Al-Mustapha insisted on Thursday that he did not make the statement.

He said, “You see they have a language, ‘the alignment principle’. The statement may look not confessional but there is a way it is in alignment with the statement of others arrested. That is how they wanted it to be.”

In the statement, which he read in court, Al-Mustapha was quoted as saying, “I have been shown the copy of statement made by Mohammed Rabo Lawal, former OC MOPOL, dated October 12, 1999. I wish to state as follows:

“That it is true that Sarkin Sasa here in Abuja introduced Alhaji Lateef (Shofolahan) to me as an informant. I, in turn introduced him (Alhaji Lateef) to Mohammed Rabo Lawal.

“At a time Alhaji Lateef was introduced to me we had very few officers and non-commissioned officers in the security department. So Rabo Lawal, the OC MOPOL, was already tasked to go to Lagos with the view to monitor the planned NADECO rally in Yaba (Lagos), what was reportedly organised to destroy Abacha’s rally in Lagos.

“The Late C-in-C asked me to send Mohammed Rabo Lawal to Lagos for the surveillance. The reason for nominating him was purposely because he was drawn from Dodan Baracks MOPOL unit to Abuja, that makes him familiar with Lagos.

In the statement, Al-Mustapha denied instructing Barnabas Jabila, (Sgt. Rogers), who was then a member of the Strike Force in the Presidential Villa, to kill Kudirat.

“I did not send anybody to kill Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. The arms and ammunition that is, UZI SMG with 9mm rounds with silencer did not come from me.’

Al-Mustapha in the statement also denied the allegation levelled against him in the content of the statement said to have been made by Jabila.


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