Dr Frederick Fasehun, founder and President of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, yesterday took on his critics, especially the Yorubas, who criticised him on his support for Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan over the brutal killing of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
Fasehun who spoke on his role on the non guilt verdict passed on the former Chief Security Officer, CSO, to late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha by the Court of Appeal, said he played the role to defend justice and equity.
At a press conference attended by some Ijaw youths, led by Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG, Comrade Joseph Eva in Lagos, Fasehun said the evidence and the judgment of the appeal court clearly vindicated his earlier position that Al-Mustapha was a victim of “some power that be.”
He argued that contrary to the position maintained by his critics, he had supported Nigeria’s progress and democracy, as well as Yoruba interests than anybody else in the region.
He noted that facts abound that he always had sympathy for the Abiola family, especially the children of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, who he said, “joined OPC at the dawn of the group, and actively encouraged the growth of OPC. We worked together in NADECO.”
He said however, going by the evidence before the court and uncoordinated evidences from the prosecution witnesses, there was no doubt that Al-Mustapha and his co-accused knew nothing about Kudirat’s death.
He therefore charged the government to look for Kudirat’s killers rather than waste taxpayers’ money in further prosecuting the case.
He said: “The real killers of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola is still at large, out there. A fresh hunt must be launched to unmask her real killers, as well as those responsible for killings of Bola Ige, Harry Marshall, Alfred Rewane, Funso Williams, Odunayo Olagbaju, Ogbonnaya Uche, Theodore Agwatu, Barnabas and Abigail Igwe, Bisoye Tejuoso, Aminasoari Dikibo, Philph Olorunnipa, Ayo Daramola, Olaitan Oyerinde and MKO Abiola”
Speaking further on Al-Mustpha’s freedom and why he went to Kano, Fasehun said, “I went to Kano to hand over Al-Mustapha back to his people safe and sound, through Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. It was a request Al-Mustapha made, and one I was too glad to grant.
”Something frightened me about Kano –the crowd. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have seen crowds in my lifetime but nothing I ever saw compares to the huge mass of humanity, that turned out to welcome Al-Mustapha back home to Kano.
”It justified everything I did to fight for this Military officer. Can you imagine if this man had died in Lagos! How would that crowd greet the news of his death? What degree of reprisal wouldn’t they have unleashed on the millions of Yoruba people in their midst? Would we not have sentenced our kinsmen to certain death –avoidable death? Today, the Yoruba in Kano walk tall.
”In Kano, Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso described me as the ONLY BRIDGE-BUILDER Nigeria has ever known. When I left Kano last Sunday, 45 Northern dignitaries escorted me to the airport. Such appreciative gestures not only compensate for all the insults I received over the Al-Mustapha case, they indicate that I had achieved my quest for a-handshake-across-the-Niger.”
On the trial, he said what culminated to the freedom of the accused persons were: ”the inordinate delay of the trial, and retracting of supposedly confessional statements erstwhile made by principal prosecution witnesses.”
He said the case would easily rate among the longest in the annals of Nigeria’s justice system.
He noted, “several paradoxes cropped up in the course of the trial to show that the Prosecution actually was taking not just Al-Mustapha but the entire nation for a ride.”
He also listed contradictions in the case to include : “Conflicting witness accounts, prosecution witnesses’ refusal to return for cross-examination, failure to tender any ballistic report on the murder weapon, the inability to provide the actual murder weapon and absence of a voluntary confession from Al-Mustapha.”
He therefore called on Nigerians to now”put Mustapha case behind us and forge the way into the future. The Lagos government must stop wasting taxpayers’ money and immediately dismantle the team it assigned to prosecute the case.”