Posted by News Express | 13 July 2013 | 7,478 times
A former lead counsel to former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd.) has extended a hand of partnership to Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, barely 24 hours after the latter’s discharge and acquittal in connection with the murder, on June 4, 1996, of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the deceased winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.
In a message advertised through Facebook, Emeka Ugwuonye, who for seven years defended Gen. Abubakar in the case of alleged torture and death of Abiola instituted in the USA by the late politician’s family and associates, predicted a rosy political future for Al-Mustapha, a former Chief Security Officer of late military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha.
“Very likely, Mustapha will retire from the Nigerian Army as a general. He will enter into politics and would ultimately try to unite the fractionated North and bid for the Presidency of the country. He is in a good position to negotiate between Boko Haram and the Government. He is more popular than (ex-Head of State Gen. Muhammadu) Buhari and (former Vice President) Atiku and (incumbent VP Namadi) Sambo put together,” Ugwuonye wrote while analysing the implications of Mustapha’s over 15 years in detention before he was freed yesterday by the Supreme Court.
Ugwuonye, who is now campaigning for due process in Nigeria following his five months detention, which he insists is politically motivated, urged Mustapha to join hands with him in the struggle to bring about reform in the Nigerian judicial system. Below are excerpts of the statement by Ugwuonye published on the Facebook page of Due Process Advocates (DPA), of which he is Group Founder/Principal Administrator:
“Time spent in prison custody is always a life-changing experience for everybody who has been through it. I have been in detention in Nigeria for 5 months. So, I understand what it would have been for Al Mustapha to be in detention for 15 years. One thing you must try not to believe is the story told against a man in detention. It is always wrong, false and at best exaggerated. And remember that the man is not able yet to tell his own side of the story. I advise all to suspect governments and prosecutors with passion. It is a tragedy that Al Mustapha stayed more than half the term of Nelson Mandela for a crime the courts ultimately said he did not commit.
“Anybody who did not understand the reason we insist as a fundamental due process issue that the accused person is entitled to speedy trial, now should know it. Speedy trial is the cornerstone of the administration of justice. When you deny the accused, particularly he who is in detention, speedy trial, you commit an offense worse that what the suspect was accused of.
My five months in detention changed me forever, but not in the direction my opponents thought. It made it easier for me to discover my true self and the purpose of my life. Because I have witnessed a terrible misuse of power, I am now determined to make sure that power would be used well and properly in the future. My experience unleashed the energy that had since been locked up in me. And there is no going back now. I am sure that Al Mustapha similarly has learned a deep lesson from his experience. In particular, just as I have learned to promote due process across the land, I hope Al Mustapha is going to do the same. And I use this opportunity to call upon him to join me in promoting due process with emphasis on speedy trial and prison reforms in Nigeria. I shall extend a hand of partnership to him in this regard. I knew that while in the Kirikiri prisons, Mustapha built a mosque and a church for the inmates. He also built a football field for them, and many more such things. I hope that, unlike (ex-President Olusegun) Obasanjo, Mustapha would not forget the plight of others.
“I was there only 5 months and feel this way. Only God knows how Al Mustapha feels today. The good thing for him is that he did not break down. He was tough and defiant throughout the process. He led the prisons and the inmates in a way. The few occasions I could recall (while visiting the prison and interacting with those who had been with him closely) Mustapha was a leader and true to his discipline as an officer. I already heard from the grapevines that now having been discharged and acquitted, he remains an officer of the Nigerian Army and shall be entitled to all the promotions he missed and the back pays. Very likely, Mustapha will retire from the Nigerian Army as a general. He will enter into politics and would ultimately try to unite the fractionated North and bid for the Presidency of the country. He is in a good position to negotiate between Boko Haram and the Government. He is more popular than Buhari and Atiku and Sambo put together. History is sometimes predictable to those who have insight and patience to study it.
“To be in prison for 15 years for a crime you did not commit is the ironically the finest test of a man.”
•Photo shows Al-Mustapha in a joyous mood.
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