Op ed

Al-Mustapha welcomes Bode George to Kirikiri prison

LAGOS — FORMER   Chief Security officer to the late Head of State, General  Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, was one of the high-profile inmates of the Kirikiri Maximum-Security Prison who welcomed Chief Bode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the prison on his arrival, Monday, Vanguard can authoritatively reveal.

Vanguard also gathered that Chief George, who was sentenced to 28 years jail term  by Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Lagos High Court, but to spend two-and-a-half years, has not eaten Prison food since Monday night, neither has he applied for food to be brought to him from his home.

Meantime, security at the Kirikiri prison was tightened yesterday as Chief George and five members of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, which he chaired, spent their first day in the prison after being jailed, Monday.

Others jailed alongside George were former Managing Director of the NPA, Architect Aminu Dabo; Captain Olusegun Abidoye, Alhaji Zanna Maideribe and Alhai Sule Aliyu.

Reports say they were allocated beds in the ‘Important Personalities’ block of the prison yard.

But it could not be ascertained whether Chief George is sharing his cell with some of those convicted with him.

Vanguard, however, gathered that between two and three inmates are allowed to stay together in VIP cells.

According to the source, prison authorities do not allow a single person in a cell whether VIP or ordinary cell, for security reasons.

Besides, two of his personal assistants, counsel, family members, friends, relations and political associates who thronged the prison were not allowed to see him as fierce-looking prison warders restricted movement in and around the premises of the prison.

Vanguard investigation revealed that visitors are not allowed to see convicts on Tuesdays.

“There are specific days of visit for convicted persons and today (Tuesday) is not one of those visiting days”, said Mr. Ope Fatinikun, the Lagos Prisons Command’s Public Relations Officer.

Inside prison sources said the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart was unusually calm as he was ushered into the Prison yard Monday to a rousing welcome by inmates.

The source said Chief George occasionally stared into space and shook his head in disbelief.

Al-Mustapha, who is standing trial for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola and attempted murder of the Publisher of The Guardian newspapers, Alex Ibru, before Justices M.O Dada and Mufutau Olokooba respectively, exchanged pleasantries with Chief George and they had a brief discussion during a free period.

Bode George shuns prison food

Vanguard was reliably told that Chief George had not eaten since his arrival at the prison Monday, even as he was not accorded a VIP treatment contrary to expectation.

It was not too clear whether he is on hunger strike but sources said he had not officially applied for food from  home neither had he eaten prison’s food.

This was confirmed by Prison sources who said although he was not locked up with other ordinary criminals, he was not given preferential treatment.
Asked whether food was brought for him by his family or friends, the state command’s PRO, said he had not applied for food to be brought from outside.
According to him, “he has the right to apply for food but he has not done so since he arrived yesterday (Monday).”

According to Vanguard investigation, among those who attempted to see him yesterday were the immediate past Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA Dr Adegboyega Dosumu, some PDP Chieftains in Lagos and other prominent Nigerians who were said to have arrived the prison gate as early as 6:30am in exotic cars some with Federal Government licenced plates.

Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that final touches are being put to their appeal against their conviction as their lawyers were sighted on  the prison’s premises believed to be part of efforts to get the convicts sign the notice of appeal drafted as well as the Motion for Appeal.

One of the lawyers who spoke with Vanguard on phone said, “we have concluded the typing of the process and ready for filing at the Registry. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet up by the time we got to the Registry of the High Court. Definitely, the process will be concluded first thing tomorrow (today),” he said.

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