Supreme Court Justice Withdraws From Lagos’ Appeal Against Al-Mustapha, Sofolahan’s Acquittal

KUDIRAT-AL-MUSTAPHAJustice Centus Chima Nweze of the Supreme Court yesterday stepped down from a panel set up by the apex court to hear an appeal by the Lagos State Government against the acquittal of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

A Lagos High Court had found Al-Mustapha and an aide to late Chief MKO Abiola, Lateef Sofolahan, guilty of the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996 and sentenced them to death in January 2012.

Following an appeal, the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on July 12, 2013, discharged and acquitted them, a decision the Lagos State Government is challenging at the Supreme Court.

Justice Nweze announced his withdrawal yesterday when the appeal was called.

He reminded lawyers in the case that he had participated in the hearing of the appeal by Al-Mustapha at the Court of Appeal, Lagos division.

The judge, who said he actively participated in the hearing of the appeal at the lower court, added that he, at some point, presided over the hearing of the case at the appellate court before another panel of the same court took over.

Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, who presided over proceedings yesterday, ruled that, in view of the information by Justice Nweze, he would be excluded from the case forthwith.

He adjourned to January 12, 2017.

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