The Kudirat Abiola murder trial continued on Wednesday with the court taking testimony from the second accused person in the case, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan. The accused believed to be an aide to the late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was charged along with Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer to General Sani Abacha.
Interestingly, Shofolahan denied ever working directly or indirectly with the late Kudirat Abiola. Like Al-Mustapha, he also claimed that the statement earlier made by him was made under duress and intense torture.
Some of those in court could not help laughing when the accused person started his testimony by giving his name and address as “Alhaji Abdul-Lateef Shofolahan, resident at Maximum Security Prison, Kirikiri, Apapa. It has been my address since 1999” he said. He told the court that before 1993, he was a distributor of Guinness, Nigeria Breweries and Coca Cola products and he has been in business since 1986 running his store, September 10 Enterprises at number 12, itire, Mushin Road, Abeokuta Bus Stop.
“In 1993, I went to work with the Hope ’93 office which is the MKO Abiola Presidential Campaign Organization. I worked with Dr. Jonathan Zwingina. I worked as a protocol officer at the Gateway Hotel under Mr. Femi Atanda. Any stranger that came to Dr. Zwingina was handed over to me for accommodation. After a while, I was moved back to the campaign office and I was in charge of campaign materials like gifts and caps. It was during that time that I knew the late Kudirat Abiola, I even knew Dr. Doyin Abiola and Alhaja Bisi. They all came to Dr. Zwingina’s office for campaign materials.
When the election was cancelled in July, 1993, everybody was paid off and I went back to my shop. I didn’t work for anybody again until 1998. It was in 1998 that I joined the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Campaign organisation. Then, I stayed at the farmhouse in Ota. I was arrested in 1999” he said.
And on his relationship with the late Kudirat Abiola, Shofolahan said “honestly speaking, after Hope ’93, I have never been Alhaja Kudirat Abiola’s PA or driver and nobody from Abiola’s house can come and challenge me that I worked with her. I told Mrs. Ojomo of the Special Investigation Panel in 1999 that they should take me in handcuff and cargo me to MKO’s house to ask the family if I worked there or they should bring them to the prison to identify me as her staff. But it is 12 years now and they have not done it. If there is anybody she sent me to as her PA or driver, let the person come out and say it because my family said they read it in the papers that I am her PA. It is all newspaper propaganda. It is a lie. I never worked with her.”
The accused person was later asked about his statement at the Special Investigation Panel, Shofolahan denied making that particular statement. “It is not my word. I was told to copy the statement. I was arrested on Friday, they tore my cloth and said I went to use Obasanjo’s name to collect money from CBN. They tortured me, put chains on my legs and put me in the guard room to sit on tyres. I was tortured, about 8 to 12 of them. They came with voice recorder, put it on the table with video camera and they were throwing questions to me. I was not made to write statement until the next day, yet they made me put the date of arrest. They gathered words from what I said and they made me to copy. As fat as I am, they hanged me and tortured me so I did what they wanted and I copied what they wanted.”
Answering questions on how he met the first defendant, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and whether they had any relationship, Shofolahan told the court that he saw Major Al-Mustapha at the 2 million man march for General Sani Abacha. He however claimed that he met the first defendant face to face at the SIP in 1999. Speaking further, he said “when we were tortured, I was the only civilian. Even Sgt. Rogers told the court that he saw me first at the SIP in 1999. If Rogers says he met me before then and I gave him information about Kudirat, it is a lie. If the other witness, Katako said so too, he is lying. If I said so in my word, it is not my wish, it is not my word. I also met Rabo Lawal at the SIP. I didn’t conspire with anybody and I don’t know anything about this case.”
When he was asked when he moved to Abuja, Shofolahan told the court that “after Obasanjo won, I moved with him to Abuja.It was at the Presidential Villa that I was arrested in 1999.they called the PA, Bodunde (Adeyanju) and Otunba Fasawe who identified me.”
The prosecuting counsel thereafter asked Alhaji Shofolahan why he went on to join the 2 million man march when he had worked with Chief Abiola who was being detained for trying to actualize his mandate. He however claimed that he didn’t know if Abiola won the election, neither did he know that Abiola was still in detention at the time of the march.
Justice Mojisola Dada thereafter adjourned till Thursday, 10th November for adoption of written addresses.