The Court of Appeal in Lagos has discharged and acquitted Hamza Al-Mustapha from the murder of Kudirat Abiola.
The judgment overturns that of the Lagos High Court which sentenced him to death by hanging.
Al-Mustapha was the Chief Security Officer of General Sani Abacha, military head of state from November 1993 to June 1998. After Abacha’s death, he was arrested and tried for murder and attempted murder.
On 30 January 2012, a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere convicted him over the murder of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Moshood Abiola.
He was sentenced on January 30 to death by hanging.
Al-Mustapha was trained as an intelligence operative in the Nigerian Army. He was involved in at least two investigations of coup attempts. His reported conduct of interrogations brought him to the attention of Abacha, who subsequently appointed him his Aide-de-Camp when he was Chief of Army (August 1985 – August 1990).
Al-Mustapha was appointed Chief Security Officer to the Head of State with a Special Strike Force Unit during Abacha’s military regime (17 November 1993 – 8 June 1998).
He reportedly wielded immense influence as most people saw him as the closest advisor of Abacha.
Reacting to the judgement, a throng of Al-Mustapha’s supporters at the court yelled at the judge: “Allahu Akbar, you will live long!”