murder of Kudirat Abiola, Lateef Shofolahan, has denied ever working for the deceased in any capacity throughout her lifetime.
Led in evidence by his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, Shofolahan testified at a Lagos High Court on Wednesday when he also said he was arrested on October 10, 1999 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The defence closed its case with Shofolahan’s testimony, in the 12-year-old trial after which the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, fixed November 10, 2011 for adoption of final written addresses by both parties.
Shofolahan, who described as “newspaper propaganda” that he was Kudirat’s aide, maintained that his relationship with the MKO Abiola family, did not go beyond serving as a protocol officer in Abiola’s Hope ‘93 Presidential Campaign Office, in Lagos.
During cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Lawal Pedro (SAN), he told the court that his interaction with Kudirat was only limited to when she was coming to the campaign office for campaign materials.
He said, “I have never worked for Kudirat Abiola. I only met her when she was coming to collect posters and other campaign materials. She was not the only one. Even Dr. Doyin Abiola used to come and Bisi Abiola too.
“I never worked for the late Kudirat Abiola or personally with Bashorun MKO Abiola, either as a PA (personal assistant, protocol officer, driver, gardener or security guard. It is newspaper propaganda.
“I only worked with Hope ‘93 as protocol officer and protocol officer in the office is not the same as Protocol Officer at the residence. After Hope ‘93 was closed down, everybody was driven away, the office building was changed to a school and no more protocol officer.”
Shofolahan stated that the prosecution and the Special Investigative Panel, before whom he alongside others appeared in connection with the series of the assassinations in the Abacha regime, failed to prove that he was Kudirat’s aide.
Shofolahan said, “When I appeared before the SIP, I begged the panel headed by AIG Ojomo to ask any member of Abiola’s family to come and identify me. I also suggested that they should take me to his house chained in hands and legs so that his children can identify me. My Lord, I did not work in the house.”
He denied having any personal relationship with MKO Abiola, who was in detention when his wife, Kudirat, was gunned down in Lagos on June 4, 1996, Shofolahan said he was number 22 in the hierarchy at the Hope ‘93 campaign office.
In his response to Pedro’s question he said he moved with Obasanjo to the Presidential Villa when he won the presidential election and was subsequently sworn in as president in 1999.
Shofolahan said, “I was with Hope ‘93 organisation till July 1993, when it was dissolved. Then I went back to my beer business. I was there fully from ‘93 to ‘98 because when I was with Hope ‘93 I had people working there.
“The same year, 1998, My Lord, I joined Obasanjo Campaign Organisation and I stayed in his farm-based house in Otta.
“When he won the presidential election, we moved to Abuja together in 1999.”
“I was arrested in the Villa. I was arrested in the presidency. I told those who arrested me that I was working there.
“They asked me what I was doing at the Villa. I told them I was a staff. They then called Bodunde, the P.A, Otunba Fasawe was there, all of them was there and they told them I was a staff.”
He denied knowing how Kudirat was killed, saying “I only knew she died, but I don’t know what killed her.”
He also said he did not attend her burial because “area boys took over the whole of Ikeja that day.”
On his relationship with al-Mustapha, Shofolahan said he first met him at the two-million-man march of ‘Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha’ rally that took place in Abuja in March 1998.