Respite does not seem to be in sight for Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the convicted Chief Security Officer Officer to General Sani Abacha as Justice Ibrahim Saulawa of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, on Thursday declined to hear his appeal against the verdict of a Lagos High Court which sentenced him and Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan to death. Both men had been sentenced to death in January 2012, for being the masterminds of the death of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
The judge announced on Thursday that he was withdrawing from the case for personal reasons. Justice Saulawa however told the appellants that all he could do was to assist them in recording a date for arguments but he would not hear their appeal. He adjourned the hearing of the case to 10th June.
Al-Mustapha and Sofolahan had started their legal tussle back in 1999 after they were arraigned on charges of conspiracy and the murder of the late Kudirat Abiola who was shot dead in Lagos in June 1996. After they were sentenced to death by hanging on January 30, 2012, the appellants approached the Court of Appeal. In their notice of appeal, they are contending that the judge erred in law by concluding that they conspired to kill the deceased. They are also contending that the death sentence passed by the High Court was unreasonable, unwarranted and a miscarriage of justice.
Their prayers include : that the Appeal Court should entertain their appeal, set aside the judgment and discharge them of the charges of conspiracy and murder.