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Al-Mustapha’s appeal unopposed as hearing resumes today

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 4/30/2013 09:00:00 am

The appeal filed by Maj. Hamza al-Mustapha, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, has not been opposed even as the case proceeds to hearing at the Court of Appeal, Lagos on Monday (today).

The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions obtained the death sentence judgment against al-Mustapha and Kudirat’s former aide, Lateefat Shofolahan, but has yet to formally oppose the convicts’ appeal against the verdict.

A state High Court in Igbosere had, on January 30, 2012, sentenced the convicts to death by hanging for the murder of Kudirat, who was gunned down in Lagos on June 4, 1996.

Kudirat was a wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola.

Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan had appealed against the death sentence, contending that the judgment of the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, was based on “discredited and unreasonable evidence”.

Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, has also filed an application to take advantage of the state’s delay in opposing his appeal.

The application dated March 25, 2013, was made available to The Punch on Sunday.

His lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), is through the application seeking the Justice Chima Nweze-led appeal panel to forgo the prosecutions’ brief of argument and determine the case solely on the appellant’s argument.

According to Daudu, the state has lost the right to respond to his client’s appeal having failed to do so within 30 days of being served with the appellant’s brief of argument.

Al-Mustapha’s application, which the appellate court may accord priority today, has not also been opposed by the state.

Daudu alleged that the state’s delay in filing its brief of argument, “is a ploy” to delay the hearing of the appeal filed by the convicts, who had both been in prison custody since 1999.

A lawyer in Daudu’s law firm, Mr. Adedayo Adedeji, stated in an affidavit filed in support of the application, “That in the light of the facts deposed to in the preceding paragraphs the respondent ought to have filed her respondent’s brief of argument on or before the March 23, 2013.”
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