The Lagos State Government has filed 14 grounds of appeal at the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal which acquitted and discharged Major Hamza al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan on charges of murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, informed journalists on Tuesday that his ministry had, on Monday, filed two separate notices of appeal against the judgments of the Court of Appeal but declined to give details of the grounds of appeal.
However, the copies of the notices of appeal obtained by our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele showed that the state government had filed six grounds of appeal with respect to Al-Mustapha and eight with respect to Shofolahan.
Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court had on the 30th of January 2012 sentenced both men to death by hanging for the murder of Kudirat.
But the Court of Appeal, Lagos, on the 12th of July 2013, set aside the judgment and quashed the death sentence passed.
In the grounds of appeal, the attorney general argued that the Court of Appeal erred in law by discharging and acquitting the two men when the evidence linking them to the crime was not materially challenged.
He said the contradictions in the testimonies of the prosecution’s star witnesses, Barnabas Jabila popularly known as Sergeant Rogers and Abdul Mohammed popularly known as Katako were not sufficiently substantial to warrant the acquittal of both al-Mustapha and Shofolahan.
The attorney general maintained that the testimonies of Barnabas Jabila and that of Abdul Mohammed were detailed, graphic and consistent.
Both witnesses had testified about how they participated in the killing of Kudirat under the instruction given by al-Mustapha with Shofolahan’s assistance as an informant but later denied and recanted the incriminating testimonies during trial.
Mr Ipaye in the notices of appeal argued that the contradictions were immaterial and urged the Supreme Court to affirm the death penalty.
The attorney general said “al-Mustapha” provided the logistics for killing the deceased in Lagos. The third prosecution witness (Mohammed) was assigned as driver to second prosecution witness (Jabila) because of his knowledge of Lagos and the third prosecution witness gave graphic evidence of how he drove the second prosecution witness to the scene of the crime and how the second prosecution witness shot the deceased severally.
“The second prosecution witness admitted to meeting the second defence witness (Shofolahan) and also testified that the second defence witness took them to the deceased’s house and provided information about the identification and movement of the deceased.
“The statements of second prosecution witness, third prosecution witness and even first defence witness (Al-Mustapha) tendered and admitted by the trial court showed that these three witnesses indeed met and had common intention to commit a crime.
“It was an undisputed fact, that Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was shot and died on June 4, 1996. The second prosecution witness admitted he severally shot the deceased on June 4, 1996.
“There was unchallenged evidence that the first defence witness gave his gun to second prosecution witness for killing the deceased and there was also the insistence of second prosecution witness that he would be surprised that the gun used to kill the deceased was a 5.6mm gun instead of the 9mm, the first defence witness gave him to kill the deceased.
“There was circumstantial evidence establishing the fact that the first defence witness and second defence witness participated and aided the elimination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.” the attorney general ended.