Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan to Die by Hanging

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Article first published as Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan to Die by Hanging on Technorati.
The long trial of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to the Late Nigerian Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha and Lateef Shofolahan finally came to an end yesterday at a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere where they were both sentenced to death by hanging, over the assassination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the wife of Late M.K.O Abiola the acclaimed winner of the 1993 Nigerian Presidential election.

The trial Judge, Justice Mojisola Dada found the duo guilty of three-count charge of conspiracy and murder and ordered that they should die ‘by hanging until pronounced dead.’ It took 13 years for Al-Mustapha to be convicted in what is arguably the longest trial case in the nation’s history.

According to The Vanguard, In a nine-hour judgment, Justice Dada chronicled the genesis of the case, analyzing it with evidence produced before the court by both prosecution and defense before arriving at the conclusion that evidence against the defense ‘is too strong.’

The Judge also stated further that gunmen sent by Major Al Mustapha killed Kudirat on the street of Lagos on June 4, 1996, while he was the CSO to Abacha.

On the part of Shofolahan, the judge held that overwhelming evidence against him also proved that he provided surveillance assistance to the killer squad as they trailed the outspoken wife of Abiola until she was murdered.

The court further held that Shofolahan connived and gave vital information concerning the itinerary of late Kudirat Abiola to the hitman Sergeant Barnabas Jabila, popularly known as Sergeant Rogers, leading to the death of Kudirat in June 1996.

Lateef Shofolahan was also said to have conspired with the other accused persons by giving a magazine, which had the picture of the late Mrs. Abiola to Rogers who then traced the car of the deceased to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where she was killed.

Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was instrumental to the 5 years of tyrannical rule unleashed on Nigerians by Late general Sani Abacha. He was in charge of the Abacha ‘Strike Squad’ which ensured that all oppositions to the then military despot were perpetually silenced.

Several oppositions were sent to their early graves; notable among those silenced by the regime included Elder Alfred Rewane, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, etc. Others who miraculously survived their assassination attempts included Isaac Porbeni, Late Alex Ibru and Late Pa Abraham Adesanya the then leader of NADECO (National Democratic Coalition).

While al-Mustapha held sway and helped to consolidate the wicked Military leader in office, he forgot that there would be a day of judgment either here on earth or hereafter. Yesterday was the Day of Judgment which he never anticipated. The judgment delivered by the court elicited reactions from numerous Nigerians. Nigerians believed that though the trial took too long a time, at least the judgment was welcome and seen as a plus for the judiciary.

The lawyer to the convicts, Mr. Olalekan Ojo stated emphatically before the court that the defense team would to file an appeal against the judgment of the court the following day, praying that copies of the judgment be made ready to commence the appeal immediately.

This judgment should serve as a reminder to those in position of authority that evil will never rule for ever. Power is transient; after vacating from the seat of power one would always be faced with the day of accountability.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nigeria Police Re-arrest Boko Haran Man With Voodoo

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Article first published as Nigeria Police Re-arrest Boko Haran Man With Voodoo on Technorati.

The fleeing mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Alhaji Kabir Sokoto has been rearrested by the police at the Nigeria-Chad border. Kabir Sokoto was said to have escaped while being conveyed to Abaji by the Police for further investigations on Monday.

According to Pointblank News Alhaji Kabir Sokoto was rearrested with the help of a voodoo man, Alhaji Ali Quran, who according to the news, is an expert in apprehending criminals. Weird as this unconfirmed news may sound, I do not believe the Police would further soil its reputation by telling Nigerians that they relied on voodoo to apprehend a criminal suspect.

The Police cannot make this public except they want us to believe that this source has been there all the while yet criminals go undetected for several years after committing crimes in the country. If the police ever told us that, it also means they now have a breakthrough in arresting criminal elements in the country and that they are assuring Nigerians that each time a serious crime is committed in the country, it would no longer take the police several years to look for the perpetrators since they now have a sure shortcut to getting those involved apprehended.

But why is this kind of solution coming on the heels of the 24 hours ultimatum given to the IG (Hafiz Ringim) to get the fleeing criminal or lose his job? Why is it that each time a policeman in killed by criminals it takes few days for them to apprehend the culprits but takes several years to do so when civilians are involved? Nigerians now know better. The police have never been trusted because of the shoddy ways they have always handled crimes in this country.

Is the inefficiency of the Nigerian police due to the fact they are ill-equipped or it’s simply because they do not want to work? Could it also be that the criminals pay their dues and get police cover and get away untouched because they are never truly investigated? Why are they able to act effectively when a senior police office gets hurt or when there is an ultimatum issued to them? Your guess is as good as mine.

Until something radical is done the Nigeria Police would continue to take the masses for granted. For years the police have been deeply involved in corruption – collecting of #20 from drivers at checkpoints under coercion, giving backup to political thugs, demanding illegal bail money, framing up innocent citizens, false witnessing in courts, etc. and now it is a case of giving protection to members of Boko Haran and aiding their escape from custody.

Now that the image of the force is badly battered, the best thing to do is for President Goodluck Jonathan to get a man who can be trusted to clean up the entire system. He should at least boycott the normal protocol of appointing an IG by rank since almost all the senior ranking officers are already corrupt. He should get someone who would be willing to die for his fatherland to do the internal cleansing. Until this is done Nigerians may never have faith in the police anymore.

Alhaji Kabir Sokoto's Escape: Is the Police Innocent?

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Article first published as Alhaji Kabir Sokoto's Escape: Are the Police Innocent? on Technorati.

The Nigerian state was Monday taken by surprise following the escape of a Boko Haran kingpin Alhaji Kabir Sokoto from police custody few hours after he was arrested at the Bornu Governor’s Lodge, Abuja.

According to The Vanguard Newspaper, Alhaji Kabir Sokoto who was the mastermind of the Christmas day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic church in Madalla was arrested in his hide-out following a tip-off. After his arrest, he was said to have been handed over to Police Commissioner Zakari Biu for further investigation.

However, the suspect was said to have escaped after a group suspected to be Boko Haran members laid an ambush for the unsuspecting police team that was conveying the suspect to his operation base at Abaji for further investigation, and effected his release. While the nation was celebrating his arrest as a major milestone in solving the Boko Haran debacle, the news of his escape came as a rude shock, as it further portrayed the police as an incompetent security arm and also lent credence to the rumour making the rounds that the religious sect has infiltrated the Nigerian security outfits.

President Goodluck Jonathan has queried the Inspector General of Police (IG) Mr. Hafiz Ringim and has also ordered full scale investigation into circumstances that led to the escape of the Boko Haran kingpin. The IG has also been ordered to produce the suspect within 24 hours or face further sanction. The police commissioner, Zakari Biu, has since been placed on house arrest on the orders of the IG.

Now the questions that need to be answered include:
1. Was Alhaji Kabir Sokoto under Bornu state government protection? If not, why was he found and arrested at the Bornu state governor’s lodge?
2. Is the police truly infiltrated by Boko Haran? How did the members know that Kabir Sokoto was to be transferred to Abaji? And how did they know the exact time of his transfer?
3. Why did the police allow only four policemen to escort such a dangerous man?
4. While was no policeman hurt in the ambush since Boko Haran is known to be heartless in their attacks?

The way and manner the religious sect had coordinated attacks across the northern states of the country have actually given Nigerians cause to believe that the jobs were done by highly intelligent personnel. Besides, the inability of the security arms of government to prevent the dastardly acts or gather useful intelligence reports, or even arrest the key players have also made Nigerians to believe that both the police and the military may have been actually infiltrated by elements who were giving information to the hoodlums to carry out their criminal acts without being detected. This may have also been the reason investigations were not yielding any tangible fruits.

The police had remained helpless in the wake of the spate of bombing of churches, police posts, banks, UNO headquarters, etc. If the police has become so incompetent and cannot assure Nigerians of their safety then there is no need paying Hafiz Ringim fat salaries for doing nothing. He was there when even the car park of the Police headquarters Abuja was bombed; and several police posts have been destroyed in the northern part of the country and all he could do is to keep promising us that something would be done and that the culprits would be brought to book. There is no better time to reorganize the Nigerian security apparatuses than now.

The recent happenings in the country support the claim by Boko Haran that they were out to Islamize the country. The southerners never took them serious; but now their agenda is gradually being unveiled. Book Haran is no longer a sectarian issue but a tacit ploy by the North to Islamize the country. That they declared war on the Christians in the north and asked them to quit their region within 72 hours has invariably pitched the sect against the God of heaven, who would never keep quiet to see his children murdered in cold blood in the name of religious fanaticism.

The fact that Alhaji Kabir Sokoto was arrested at the Bornu governor’s Lodge also shows that there is more to it than meets the eyes. It is now a case of “Dog eats Dog”. The same government that has been pretending to be helpless and has been watching its citizenry murdered in their scores has also been hiding the mastermind of the massacres taking place under their nose. The truth is that mostly Christians have been victims of the attacks taking place in the north hence the financiers and sponsors of this barbaric sect have remained mute.

What is actually the offense of the southern Christians? The only offense they have committed is that they are Christians among overzealous, parochial, blood-thirsty people who have always advanced their religious course through blood shed and religious wars. The second offense they have committed is that the incumbent President is from their zone. The north has always believed that political power is their birth right and should never be ceded. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and everybody has the right to aspire to any political position without fear of intimidation.

Will the police ever be able to clean up its own mess? Will they ever earn the trust of Nigerians again? Should the current IG be allowed to stay in office or he should be retired? Should the presidency keep watching helplessly or there should be as a matter of urgency, a reshuffling and reorganization of the security apparatuses in the country?