Al- Mustapha's incarceration: the Yar’Adua connection -by Abdulmumini Kabir Fagge

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For Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, late Gen. Sani Abacha's Chief Security Officer; as well as former Lagos and Oyo State Commissioner of Police , James Danbaba, former Military Administrator of Zamfara State , Colonel Jubrin Yakubu and former officer in charge of the Mobile Police Force in the Presidency , Mohammed Rabo Lawal, it has been a long time of incarceration, with nearly eleven years now spent in detention.

Nigerians are increasingly becoming worried over Yar'Adua's failure to set these detainees them free despite the fact that their alleged offence is that of attempted murder and not withstanding all the noise made about the rule of law. His refusal to release them may not be unconnected with speculations that he is full of resentment against Al-Mustapha over the death of his elder brother, Shehu Musa Yar'Adua. Hence, he doesn't care about Al-Mustapha and others even though they rot away in jail, a source familiar with the issue alleged.

Apart from Yar'Adua, some other top northerners, such as IBB, Abdusalami Abubakar and many others are also allegedly behind the non-release of Mustapha and others. Abubakar's grouse with him was that before Al-Mustapha's arrest he (Abubakar) made many national security agencies to quiz and investigate Al-Mustapha particularly with regards to the seizure of some important national documents in custody of the Abacha Administration from Al-Mustapha. He has been heaping blames on Abubakar as the main cause of his problems.

The charge leveled against former President Olusegun Obasanajo as an active player in the 1995 coup attempt against the Abacha government is also partly responsible for the unjust incarceration. Obasanjo is believed to be avenging his ordeal in the hands of late Abacha. “And this is why the Obasanjo government in a bid to nail him used Sergeant Rogers, who was not willing to testify against him until he was bought over by the Nigerian government who even promised to grant him release, which they did,” the source claimed.

It would be recalled that he was first arraigned alongside the former Chief of Army Staff, but later he sought for a separate trial from the other four defendants. General Bamayi's request was granted. He was later discharged and acquitted for lack of diligent prosecution. But funny enough, in his evidence, Sergeant Rogers told the court that he led the team that assassinated the wife of Chief M.K.O. Abiola on 4 June, 1996, while in another contradicting statement, he said that Major Al-Mustapha did not send him on the assignment (to kill Alhaja Kudirat Abiola).

Al-Mustapha was said to be in possession of audio/video tapes and other documents showing, among others, how Abiola was beaten to death. These tapes "are part of the items contained in the eleven Ghana-must-go bags confiscated by the State Security Service " from the house of Brig-Gen. I. Sabo (rtd), the former Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) in whose care he left them.

Al-Mustapha also claimed to have kept letters written by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo while he was in detention at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons. He said the letters which were entitled " Abacha has murdered sleep and shall sleep no more" were intercepted by intelligence officers from the warders who were later taken to the Directorate of Military Intelligence , Apapa and disciplined. These letters, he said, were in the Ghana-must-go bag which were in contention before the court.

Al-Mustapha had contended that in order to clear him of the charges preferred against him by the state, the contents of the controversial bags must be made available to him. But the State Security Service (SSS) in their counter-affidavit claimed that the bags were handed over to officials of the DMI, whereupon the trial judge, Justice Muftau Olokoba, granted Al-Mustapha's application to join the DMI in the suit.

It would also be recalled that in their notice of appeal, Bamaiyi and Al-Mustapha challenged the High Court's ruling on the following grounds:

* That the trial judge erred in law when in dismissing the application for leave to enforce their fundamental rights , he held that the court ( Federal High Court ) lacked the jurisdiction or competence to issue the writ of certiorari and prohibition against a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction conferred on the High Court, contending that under section 46 of the constitution is a special jurisdiction which empowers the Court to do so and this has caused injustice to Bamaiyi and others.

*That the trial judge erred in law, when in dismissing the appellants' application for leave to enforce their fundamental rights, held that the NJC is merely investigatory and not bound to observe the rules of fair hearing under section 36 of the constitution, whereas the panel was composed and conducted its proceedings in a quasi-judicial manner, and this has led to injustice to Bamaiyi and co.

*That the trial judge erred in law in holding that the proceeding of the panel set up by NJC did not involve the determination of the civil rights and obligations of the appellants and consequently, the locus standi to complain of the breach of their rights as envisaged by section 36 of the constitution; whereas the appellants have the civil right to call for the exercise of the disciplinary powers of the NJC over judicial officers who must observe the rules of fair hearing in the process of so doing, and this had caused a miscarriage of justice to Bamaiyi and co.

*That the trial judge erred in law, when in dismissing the suit held that the relief sought by the appellants against NJC are not justifiable on the ground that by virtue of section 158 of the constitution, any decision taken by NJC in the exercise of its disciplinary powers over judicial officers shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority, which in the opinion of the trial court, include all courts, whereas section 158 of the constitution merely seeks to protect the bodies mentioned therein from executive interference.

According to reports, some northern emirs had sometimes this year also visited the president to persuade him to release Al-Mustapha and co. The emirs reportedly urged Yar'Adua to temper justice with mercy and release Al-Mustapha based on the fact that he has stayed for a long time in jail. Even if convicted, the alleged offence of the former CSO will not attract more than five years in prison, according to some lawyers. The emirs were said to have reminded the president about the Islamic teaching which states that “whatever happens in this world is the will of Allah and that Allah admonishes us to forgive each other.”

According to a source, two former heads of state from the north, apparently worried about the royal fathers' intervention, have been allegedly working round the clock to forestall it. These two ex-heads of state are said to be doing this for many reasons. On several occasions, these former heads of state have been persuaded by some powers that be in the north, especially the families of the accused, to move for their release but they have often been foot-dragging, a fact that points to their position that Al-Mustapha should continue to be in jail probably for the rest of his life. Even when they agreed in principle that they would persuade Aso Rock in this regard, they ended up reneging on such promises.

Findings revealed that the issue of Al-Mustapha was one of the principal reasons why Obasanjo, who was a victim of Abacha's despotic rule, decided to opt for Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as his successor, when his third term bid failed. Obasanjo did this to ensure Al-Mustapha is perpetually kept behind bars. “The reason why Obasanjo picked Yar'Adua as his successor is traceable to the feud between the Abachas and Obasanjo. After looking at the polity, there is no one who would muster enough hatred to keep the former CSO behind bars like Yar'Adua. This is because the Yar'Adua's family believes Abacha and Al-Mustapha were responsible for the death of their patriarch, Shehu Yar'Adua. That apart, Shehu Yar'Adua's mother is said to be highly irritable by the mere mention of the Abachas. Up till now, she is still annoyed, and blames the activities of

Al-Mustapha for the death of her beloved son,” an informed source said. The same sentiments are allegedly being shared by President Umaru Yar'Adua hence the continued incarceration of Al-Mustapha even though the president has the powers to make the families of Al-Mustapha and co. to smile again in the spirit of forgiveness or presidential amnesty as you may call it .

The worst part of Yar'Adua role in the sordid drama is that he has reportedly refused to listen to any group of persons seeking for the release of Al-Mustapha thereby making nonsense of his rule of law mantra. The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has continued to make similar appeals to the government. The northern leaders led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar have made representations to the government to free them. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), northern chapter, in a statement, also pleaded with the President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua administration to pardon Al-Mustapha and others in the spirit of national reconciliation. But analysts believe that the nation, particularly the northern leadership, did not do enough to secure the freedom of one of their own. “Al-Mustapha certainly has his positive side. If it were not for him, we will not be enjoying democracy and relative freedom today. He got the opportunity to be in charge ofthis country but gave it away in preference of national growth,” said one of the analysts. He added that: “As such, it is saddening that members of the civil society as well as the media have been silent over this callous violation of human rights . Could it be because Al-Mustapha served a man we all like to hate? Otherwise, why hasn't the civil society groups demanded for the arrests and trials of all those that participated in the infamous regime of Abacha, including Abdusalami Abubakar? Why hasn't the civil society insisted on the trials of Anenih for allegedly plotting to assassinate Kalu and Obasanjo for the Odi and Zaki Biam massacre?”

Another analyst persisted that: “Since in the dispensation of justice all suspects should be treated equally, it is now pertinent that Mr. President tempers justice with mercy by facilitating the release of Al-Mustapha. He has done it before. He did it to Asari Dokubo, Henry Okah and Tampolo. He also did it for Ralph Uwazuruike. He can also do it for Al-Mustapha and co. without losing anything. Our president should remember that even the God that created us do forgive us if not none of us will be fit to enter His kingdom.”

Al- Mustapha And Family Get Maryam's Unkindest Cuts

The continued and unjust incarceration of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha over a bogey murder charge that has dragged on for over a decade without any visible sign that justice will best be served either to the state as the litigant or Al-Mustapha himself as the defendant, may end up doing more harm than good to our collective yearning for a workable criminal justice system for the country. Al-Mustapha is generally regarded as a victim of a nation's thirst for a fall guy of what is erroneously perceived as the highhandedness of the late General Sani Abacha's government, whom Al-Mustapha served loyally and with distinction as expected of any security man at the level of a Chief Security Officer, to a reigning military head of state.

There is no denying the fact that as a young, budding and zestful young man at the peak of his career, Al-Mustapha may have stepped on some powerful toes in the discharge of his duties or he may even have been seen as overzealous and overbearing, but the fact still remains that he was very effective and professional in his job, perhaps to the extent that the gullible public may have been led into seeing him in the caricature of an arrogant, murderous, trigger-happy and blood-thirsty soldier. But nothing could be farther from the truth as can be seen in the inability of the prosecution to put this case to bed several years into, it and without any discernible sign that any headway to its conclusion will be made. This is because the charges against Al-Mustapha have always lacked substance or any shred of evidence for the courts tojustly and fairly send Al-Mustapha and co to the gallows, which from all indications is the wish of the powerful men who would rather have Al-Mustapha remain, and probably die in detention than have him walk free.

The Al-Mustapha case has attracted a litany of comments from all manner of people with most commentators, either through acts of omission or commission, joining the “kill Al-Mustapha” bandwagon of mostly the Lagos/Ibadan axis of stone throwers, who have never hidden their demented and chronic hatred for someone they see as an active player in the detection and exposing of all coup detates in Nigeria. Despite the arm-twisting and the armada of legal luminaries and icons as well as the federal might as personified by former President Obasanjo's thirst for the blood of Sani Abacha and his lieutenants, Al-Mustapha's case is still there in the courts with no any sight that the poor man or any of his co-accused is indeed guilty as charged. Rather than get him condemned, what we see is an increasing frustration on their part

even though we know that they will continue to conjure technicalities and make-beliefs in order to stand truth on its head and justify the continued detention of Al-Mustapha.

But Nigerians from all walks of life have now seen the injustice, the lies and the collaboration of the elite to drag the case along not because of any desire on their part to see that justice is done but to ensure that the case does not come to an end because its conclusion means freedom for them and that is bad news for the very people who put this contraption together in the first place.

Unfortunately for Al-Mustapha, he is currently mired in a number of additional but needless distractions coming from the most unlikely quarters. While he has succeeded in proving his innocence in the public court and is now enjoying the sympathy of the people from all over the country, signs have emerged that the very people on whose behest he made his enemies are adding to his problems. The Sani Abacha family, as represented by Mrs. Maryam Abacha, has completely forgotten about the family of Al-Mustapha at this time that the absence of their breadwinner is taking its toll on them. Ironically, Al-Mustapha got into this trouble because he remained absolutely committed to the security of both the former late head of state and his family and the toes which he stepped on in order to give the family all the necessary security cover on

the basis of which he is still behind bars are the toes of people that are still sworn enemies of the former first family.

To assume that a time will come when Mrs. Maryam Abacha will wash her hands off the family of Al-Mustapha and allow his two children and their mother to wallow in otherwise avoidable problems is, to say the least, very unthinkable and unfortunate. The expectation of every right thinking person is that through thick and thin, Maryam will stand behind the poor kids and their distraught and embattled mother. Maryam has even abdicated from the responsibility of checking on the health and comfort of the family. As at today, no one from the Abacha family is concerned about the fate of Al-Mustapha and his family such that the kids sometimes encounter problems that require a more mature attention in which case a powerful backer would have sufficed. To suggest that the children and wife of Al-Mustapha have been left to the elements is

simply incomprehensible and unbelievable.

This is a case that has moral undertones. The issue is that of a family whose breadwinner is unavailable as a result of problems arising from his service to his fatherland that have been misconstrued and deliberately twisted in order to achieve the objective of keeping him perpetually in detention to satisfy the whims of some people who believe that freeing Al-Mustapha will endanger their interests.

I am particularly more concerned about the fate of the family and this concern is borne out of the realisation that the family of the late head of state has a duty to take succour to the doorsteps of Al-Mustapha for as long as this case will last. The rumours making the rounds that Maryam is unhappy with Al-Mustapha for not taking her into confidence when decisions on who will succeed Abacha was being taken, only serve to present Maryam as unreasonably power drunk and unforgiving. Some sources even inferred that Maryam is holding this particular issue against the Al-Mustaphas and that up to this moment the former first lady is hinged on taking no part in ensuring the comfort of the junior Al-Mustaphas just to underline her anger with what has happened several years ago. Let me pause here for a moment and ask a question; is she asoldier or even a good Muslim? Does Mrs. Abacha think in her wildest dreams that she or her sons will have succeeded her late husband? Why does she have to keep malice with Al-Mustapha for all that long on the decision to hand over to General Abdulsallami Abubakar? These questions are important because I really don't see the reason for her unwanted anger.

The decision taken by Al-Mustapha, which made the succession issue such a pleasant and peaceful thing, tended to show that even though he had all the chance to corner power for himself, he is a patriot and a nationalist, whose interest is to pull the country out of a seeming quagmire that has the potential to push the country into anarchy and ruin. It should be noted that at the time Abacha died, what was required then was selflessness and a sense of duty to stop an imminent slide into a problem of a proportion that could not be estimated. The tact and diplomacy which Al-Mustapha brought to bear, and which proved to be decisive and inviolable in the attainment of unity is what has resulted in the peace and democracy which the country is enjoying today. If he has allowed selfishness to becloud his sense of reasoning, the

catastrophe that will have befallen will have been better imagined.

Al-Mustapha is undeserving of this neglect from Maryam and her ilk and it is time for all lovers of justice to rise in unison to reject both the unjustifiable and endless detention of this gentleman and the neglect of his family by those who are morally saddled with the responsibility of looking after them. That of the federal government should however form the basis.

The case and unreported role of Hadi Almustapha, the immediate biological brother of Major Hamza Al-mustapha in the continous travails of the former CSO to late General Sani Abacha is the most baffling. From the surface and understanding of those that are not privy to the antics of Al-mustapha's kid brother, he (Hadi) is championing the campaign for the release of his elder brother. But the continuous incarceration of Major Al-mustapha has been a blessing and a direct source of Hadi's stupendous weath. Hadi has so far directly or indirectly frustrated several efforts by well meaning Nigerians to ensure the release of his elder brother, it was alleged.

Ironically, Hadi is now very close to those that perpetrated the travails of his elder brother. He is close to both General Abdulsalami Abubakar and General Ibrahim Babangida. He knows that they will never play any role to ensure the freedom of his elder brother. He also knows that the travails and continous incarceration of major Al-mustapha was influenced and masterminded by the same clique. Equally baffling is Hadi's excellent relationship with Mohammed Abacha and in fact Mrs. Maryam Abacha. He know quite well how both Mohammed and Maryam Abacha betrayed major Almustapha after the family succeeded in securing the release of Mohammed. The hitherto campaign bankrolled and mounted by the Abacha family prior to the release of Mohammed and the intense lobbying has since been abandoned after the successful release of Mohammed. Eventhough the travails of Major Almustapha was as a result of his unflinching loyalty to late General Sani Abacha, the Abacha family notably Maryam Abacha and Mohammed Abacha and major Mustapha's won brother, Hadi, did not core even if the former CSO dies in prison provided they will continue to enjoy their wealth.

It may surprise readers to know that Hadi is exclusively in control of his brothers wealth but yet cannot spend a penny on the family of Major Al-Mustapha or to campaign vigorously for his release. The Abacha family, in contrast, spent millions of naira in media propaganda and intense lobbying to ensure Mohammed's release. It may also sound ridiculous and unbelievable to hear that Hadi has for the past eight years disconnected relationship with the immediate family of his elder brother. He is not on talking terms with the only wife of his elder brother, Hajiya Hafsat Almustapha, because of issues that have to do with his monopoly and mismanagement of his brothers wealth. Hadi doesn't even know how the two childrens of his elderbrother are managing and sponsoring their education in Cyprus because even though he holds exclusive monopoly of their Father's wealth, he has vehemently resisted all efforts to pay for quality education for his brother's only two children. But his own children are in the most expensive schools even as he has build for the enjoyment of his family a million naira palatial edifice in kano .

Hadi is also in war with the children of his elder brother because he didn't even know how they are managing their lives. He doesn't call them and he never cares to know their condition or problems. His hatred for their mother for insisting that he most do the right thing with the brother's wealth has equally affected the two kids.

But he is a regular visitor to the kirikiri maximum prison in Lagos , apparently to deceive his brother about his fake commitment to ensure his release. Had Hadi truly wanted with the resources at his disposal, his elder brother would have been release by now.

What is the motive of maintaining a cardial relationship with people that inshed his elder brother dead? As a man who should have represent the interest of his elder brother, why is he in conflict with Hajiya Hafsat Almustapha no matter the crime she most have committed? Why did he abandone the only two children of his elder brother at such a critical and challenging period? Above all, why is he not comfortable with his brother's possible release?

Although Hadi is reported to have a history of insanity right from childhood, insiders said his conduct and behaviour against his own brother and his family should not be seen as a case of loss of mind. Instead, his being insane should equally be seen as affecting his own family but for now, the welfare of his family is 100 times stet than that of his elder brother.

Though on insider, Hadi Almustapha is believed to be one of the greatest obstacle to his brother's freedom, his arrogance, flamboyance and undue generosity to his immediate family so also the atrocities he committed with his brother's wealth will make it difficult of not impossible for him to support any genuine crusade that may ensure his brother's freedom. How else can one describe a person that took his own father-in-law to court and engaged in a media battle with Senator Usman Albishir? Hadi only cares about himself and his immediate family.

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