Former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha on Thursday challenged former President Olusegun Obasanjo to provide evidence on his claims that President Goodluck Jonathan influenced the Appeal Court judgment which discharged and acquitted him of the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
Information Nigeria reports that in his December 2 letter to the President titled ‘Before it is too late’, Mr. Obasanjo had alleged that Mr. Jonathan interfered with the court process to set an unnamed murderer free, and organised a presidential reception for him.
Apparently, the former president was referring to Al-Mustapha, who was freed by the Court of Appeal in July over the murder of the late Kudirat Abiola.
But Al-Mustapha, who spoke through his counsel Barrister Olalekan Ojo yesterday, dared Mr. Obasanjo to produce evidence to back up his weighty allegations in the said letter.
Obasanjo had written: “Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim.
“Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch”, he wrote in an 18-page letter that has now gone viral.
In his reaction, Ojo told Daily Trust: “To the best of my knowledge, President Jonathan never organised or sponsored any welcome rally to Al-Mustapha after his release”.
Al-Mustapha had been incarcerated for 14 years before he was acquitted by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, after being sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court.
Ojo said, “The impression (of Obasanjo’s letter) is that the Court of Appeal caved into pressure from President Jonathan, to that extent, the comment is disturbing, worrisome and unwarranted.
“The judiciary should be left alone and not be dragged into politics. The Justices of the Court of Appeal in Lagos that sat over the case are jurists of impeccable character and it is not fair for anybody, no matter how well-placed, to attack the integrity of these judges. We challenge Obasanjo to produce evidence of such interference to make it available to the public”.
He added: “My client was discharged and acquitted on the merit of his appeal. Majority of those who commented on the judgment expressed satisfaction. It is most unfortunate that a person like OBJ could accuse the President of using his exalted office for such a sinister and morally reprehensible thing. It must be stated that if OBJ has any issue to settle with the President, he should not drag Al Mustapha into it”.
Speaking specifically on the allegation that Al-Mustapha is being used by Jonathan to run a hit squad, Ojo said that the accusation was a pointer to the enormous hatred Obasanjo had for Al-Mustapha.
“At no time has he been involved in any such thing. It is totally false. Al-Mustapha is earnestly committed to the promotion of peace and harmony in Nigeria. It is most unfair that such an allegation should be made against him. It is an attempt to give a dog a bad name to hang him. When Al-Mustapha returns (from abroad) he will make a fuller response”, Ojo said.