Almustapha’s trial:Group petitions Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, accuses judge of miscarriage of justice

The story  of Major Hamza Almustapha  took a twist today as a group has written a petition outlining the alleged misconducts of the judge that sentenced him to death. Justice for All International, a non-governmental organization has petitioned Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch over Major Hamza Al-Mustapha who is currently awaiting the hangman after the recent court judgment that gave a verdict of death sentence.

An Igbosere, Lagos High Court presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada  sentenced Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, and Gen. Sani Abacha, to death, along with Lateef Shofolahan, over complicity in the assassination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996.

The  group in its  petition,  which was also copied to President Goodluck Jonathan, wants Amnesty International to investigate Justice Dada and the cases she has handled  since  becoming High Court Judge about 10 years ago.The NGO also wants   the National Judicial Council (NJC) to intervene.

Justice for all International alleged that  Dada has handled a total of 24 cases including that of Al-Mustapha.Out of these  she sentenced 17 of the accused persons to death while six others bagged  life imprisonment.

The petition alleged that Justice Dada is referred to within  judicial circles as “Madam Conviction” .It was further stated that in the cases which involved alleged conspiracy and murder, armed robbery and murder, justice Dada’s sense of judgment is questionable because her judgements were always solely based  on “confessional statements obtained by police through torture” and that in majority of the cases, there were no eyewitness except statements by the investigating police officers.

It was also revealed that the Al-Mustapha case may be the first case from Dada’s judgment that will go to a higher court because, according to the report, most of  her  victims are poor and cannot afford the cost of pursuing the cases further.

The NGO noted the cases  of one Kinsgley Akhabue, who was charged with armed robbery, with case ID/72/c/08 .He  was sentenced to death on October 16, 2010.But it is believed that  the trial Judge allegedly based his judgment on hearsay evidence only.Equally one David Awude who had a case number LCD/95/199 was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to life imprisonment on October 20, 2005 where the Judge ignored the testimony of the defendant who said he acted in self-defence.

Reports said none of the death sentence cases has  been executed .However, the Lagos state government  commuted the death sentence of one Azubuike Osai with case number LCD/1/99 who was charged with murder and sentenced on June 7, 2005.The report on the  matter noted that, “there was no eyewitness, no pathologist report and the only evidence was that of the investigating police officer.”

Al-Mustapha  has been on trial for 13 years and was sentenced to death over the death of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the winner of June 12,1993 presidential elections .

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