Elder-statesman and founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Friday hit back at his critics, especially the Yorubas, who condemned him on his support for Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan who were recently freed from prison.
Speaking at a press conference attended by some Ijaw youth, and led by Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG, Comrade Joseph Eva in Lagos, Fasehun said he played the role to defend justice and equity.
He noted that the verdict of the appellate court evidently vindicated his earlier stand that Al-Mustapha was a victim of “some power that be.”
Fasehun said that facts abound that he always had sympathy for the Abiola family, especially the children of the late Kudirat Abiola, whom he said, “joined OPC at the dawn of the group, and actively encouraged the growth of OPC. We worked together in NADECO.”
The OPC boss insisted that going by the evidence before the court, there was no doubt that Al-Mustapha and his co-accused knew nothing about Kudirat’s murder.
He therefore called on the government to go after Kudirat’s killers rather than waste taxpayers’ money in further prosecuting the case.
He said: “The real killers of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola is still at large, out there. A fresh hunt must be launched to unmask her real killers, as well as those responsible for the killings of Bola Ige, Harry Marshall, Alfred Rewane, Funso Williams, Odunayo Olagbaju, Ogbonnaya Uche, Theodore Agwatu, Barnabas and Abigail Igwe, Bisoye Tejuoso, Aminasoari Dikibo, Philph Olorunnipa, Ayo Daramola, Olaitan Oyerinde and MKO Abiola”
On why he followed Al Mustapha to Kano, Fasehun said, “I went to Kano to hand over Al-Mustapha back to his people safe and sound, through Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. It was a request Al-Mustapha made, which I was too glad to grant.
“Something frightened me about Kano –the crowd. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have seen crowds in my lifetime, but nothing I ever saw compares to the huge mass of humanity, that turned out to welcome Al-Mustapha back home in Kano.
“It justified everything I did to fight for this Military officer. Can you imagine if this man had died in Lagos! How would that crowd greet the news of his death? What degree of reprisal wouldn’t they have unleashed on the millions of Yoruba people in their midst? Would we not have sentenced our kinsmen to certain death –avoidable death? Today, the Yoruba in Kano walk tall.
“In Kano, Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso described me as the ONLY BRIDGE-BUILDER Nigeria has ever known. When I left Kano last Sunday, 45 Northern dignitaries escorted me to the airport. Such appreciative gestures not only compensate for all the insults I received over the Al-Mustapha case, they indicate that I had achieved my quest for a-handshake-across-the-Niger.”
On the trial, he said what culminated into the freedom of the accused persons were, ”the inordinate delay of the trial, and retracting of supposedly confessional statements erstwhile made by principal prosecution witnesses.”
He noted, “several paradoxes cropped up in the course of the trial to show that the Prosecution actually was taking not just Al-Mustapha but the entire nation for a ride.”
He also listed contradictions in the case to include : “Conflicting witness accounts, prosecution witnesses’ refusal to return for cross-examination, failure to tender any ballistic report on the murder weapon, the inability to provide the actual murder weapon and absence of a voluntary confession from Al-Mustapha.”
He therefore called on Nigerians to now, “put Mustapha’s case behind us and make way into the future. The Lagos government must stop wasting taxpayers’ money and immediately dismantle the team it assigned to prosecute the case.”