Kudirat Abiola’s Murder

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Kudirat Abiola

Kudirat Abiola

Judge Grants Prosecution Leave to Cross-Examine Mustapha On Written Admission of Murder

When Hamzat Al-Mustapha faces prosecuting counsel Lawal Pedro at the Lagos Hight Court tomorrow in continuation of his trial for murder, it could mark a serious new turn in the case as he will be confronted with his 1999 admission to the murder of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola.
At today’s hearing, lawyers on both sides squared off in argument before Justice Mojisola Dada over the validity in law of that statement, which is not in evidence before the court at the trial.  Yesterday, the prosecution had sought permission to cross-examine Mr. Mustapha over the statement, which he made in writing to the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) in Abuja.

Since then however, and during this trial, the defendant has repeatedly asserted that he made the statement under duress, drawing a parallel with the claim by Sergeant Rogers, who was accused of the murder of Mrs. Abiola, that he was similarly pressurized to admit to the crime.
The argument over the statement, which began yesterday with the disclosure of his intention by Mr. Lawal Pedro, the lead prosecutor counsel, reached a boiling point today.  Mr. Olalekan Ojo, for the defendant, confronted the prosecution over whether the   Evidence Act supports cross-examination of a defendant on a statement attributed to him but which is not in evidence before the court.

Before making her ruling today, Justice Mojisola Dada took a long break of over one and a half hours.  When she returned, she ruled that the prosecution could cross-examine Mustapha on the contentious statement “since the first defendant has identified the statement, although [it was] made under torture,” she said.

A happy Mr. Pedro later told journalists that by this decision, the cross-examination of Mr. Mustapha on the adopted statement will see the case “take a new turn.”

Defending lawyer, Mr Ojo, was not bothered about Justice Dada’s decision.  He said it was agreeable on the grounds that it did not assert that the statement in question was admissible.
“The statement can only be used to cross-examine the witness, it is neither here nor there, until we see the use to which the statement will be out,” he said.

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