S’Court yet to hear appeal challenging decision freeing Al-Mustapha

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By Innocent Anaba

The Supreme Court, is yet to hear the appeal by Lagos State against Court of Appeal decision, which discharged and acquitted Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, over the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, as erroneously reported.

What the apex court granted on January 12, 2017, when the matter came up was leave to Lagos State to file its appeal out of time, contrary to reports that the apex court had granted Lagos State leave to re-open the case against Al-Mustapha.

The proceedings of the Supreme Court at the last hearing in the matter, Vanguard gathered, dwelt on the leave sought by the Lagos State Government to file its appeal out of time, which the court granted.

Late Kudirat Abiola and Al-Mustapha

The seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on January 12, 2017,  in a  brief ruling, said it was minded to allow Lagos State to lodge its belated appeal, despite being out of time.

Consequently, the Supreme Court gave Lagos State 30 days within which it should enter a notice of appeal against Al-Mustapha.

The ruling followed an application by Mrs. Osunsanya Oluwayemisi, a Senior State Counsel in the Lagos Ministry of Justice.

Al-Mustapha’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Dauda SAN, did not oppose the application.

The acting CJN stressed that going by the ruling, the time for Lagos to appeal against findings of the Court of Appeal on the celebrated case had been extended from July 12, 2013, when Mustapha was discharged, to the day the matter came up, January 12.

Though out of time, Lagos had prayed the apex court panel to allow it to challenge the appellate court findings of Justices Amina Augie, Rita Nosakhare Pemu and Fatimo Omoro Akinbami, on grounds of mis-carriage of Justice.

It expressed determination to test the validity and correctness of the decision of the Court of Appeal on the matter.

It justified its lateness in filing the appeal on the grounds that it had constituted two legal teams to review the circumstances of the case vis-a-vis the verdict of the Court of Appeal.

Lagos State told the apex court panel that it took a long time for the two legal teams to present their findings and recommended that an appeal should be lodged.

The state, in its notice of appeal, is praying the Supreme Court to not only set-aside the appellate court verdict, but to also restore the death sentence by hanging earlier passed on Al-Mustapha by a Lagos High Court on January 30, 2012.

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