Twelve years after his trial began Major Hamza Al-Mustapha has finally opened up on some of the alleged dirty deals of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar era. Mustapha is on trial for the assassination of Kudirat Abiola, wife of Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993 election. The election was annulled by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. The Al-Mustapha case may yet earn a place in the nation’s judicial history for the length of time it has spent and how many judges have presided over it. Perhaps we are finally moving towards the denouement.
Now that Mustapha has decided to speak because he believes he is being persecuted, he has acquired some handy tar brush. He accused Abubakar of inducing some Yoruba leaders with money to dump Abiola. His evidence is the photocopy of a memo with which a hefty sum of money, $200 million, £75 million and N500 million, was spirited out of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN partly for this purpose. If this is true, Abubakar only continued with a tradition he allegedly met on ground, which was perfected under his predecessor in office, General Sani Abacha. Al-Mustapha used to be the powerful chief security officer, CSO to Abacha, who is said to have supervised such illegal movement of money from the CBN under his late boss. He was such a powerful major that if his path crossed that of a four-star general, the latter would be the first to salute him in that military era of “anything goes”. The nation is yet to forget that video screened on national television where generals, accused of plotting to overthrow Abacha knelt down to beg Al-Mustapha, a major. Interestingly, the court has admitted in evidence the latest video allegedly showing two respected Yoruba leaders leaving Aso Rock after they had allegedly compromised Abiola’s mandate.
While the accused talked of several people, the only names he has found convenient to mention are Bola Ige and Abraham Adesanya, who are both dead. The two will never have the opportunity to explain what took them to Aso Rock at the time of the secret filming of their exit. What the new evidence will succeed in doing is muddy up the case against Al-Mustapha. Already, many are already hailing the accused for this latter-day bravery. The Afenifere Renewal Group has advised that security should be beefed up around him so that he will not mistakenly eat a killer “apple” or “drink tea” from some poisoned chalice. Certainly, Al-Mustapha must not be eliminated. He has so much to tell the nation as to some of the dirty deals of both the Abacha and Abubakar era. He needs to educate Nigerians why his late boss needed a Strike Force. If he, Al-Mustapha, was not the coordinator of the deadly outfit’s activities, who was? Now that he knew who killed both Abiola and Abacha, he surely must know who killed Kudirat Abiola and ordered the failed assassination of Alex Ibru, publisher of The Guardian, who was internal affairs minister under Abacha. That is not all! Olu Onagoruwa, respected constitutional lawyer served as attorney-general and minister of justice under Abacha. His first son, Toyin, was assassinated shortly after Onagoruwa left Abacha’s government. Since this is the season of revelations a la Al-Mustapha, the former CSO owes the nation the duty of revealing who killed Toyin. At the time accusing fingers pointed at the Abacha presidency.
It would not be surprising if in the end nothing much came from the latest Al-Mustapha revelations. We have been treated to this kind of charade before. Ade Alabi, the judge who sat over this case earlier was accused of receiving a $10 million bribe by Al-Mustapha’s legal team. It turned out to be all lies. Thus, the insinuation that two committed democrats were part of the crowd that compromised June 12 may be nothing more than another ploy to hoodwink Nigerians. That is a game Al-Mustapha has perfected in the last 12 years.
Arab Spring, Mubarak’s Winter
Pray, did you watch the footage of Hosni Mubarak’s appearance in court on Wednesday, August 3? He was brought to court lying on a bed and in a cage like a dangerous animal. Until last February, Mubarak was one of Africa’s most powerful dictators. Since his exit from power due to popular protests, however, the people he ruled for 30 years have not given him any respite. They want him tried for corruption while he was in office. That is not all. He is equally defending himself against charges that he ordered the brutal repression and killings of protesters by the security forces. Two of his sons and six of his top aides are in the dock with him. If Mubarak is found guilty, he may be sent to the gallows. Ben Ali, the disgraced former president of Tunisia is luckier. He quit office without too much ado. But that did not stop his trial for corruption in absentia. He has been convicted. But the Tunisian authorities seem not in a hurry to seek his extradition so that he can begin serving his term in prison.
One place where the Arab spring has become a living hell is Libya. Because of NATO’s superior air power, pro-Muammar Gaddaffi forces have been nearly grounded to dust, but the embattled Libyan leader refuses to step down from power. Many key European nations are already doing business with the Libyan rebels. They are giving them not only moral but financial support. But Gaddaffi insists he is going nowhere. However, his exit is only a matter of time because he has been isolated. He has a soul mate in Syria’s Bashar al Assad, who continues to send security forces against protesters demanding more democratic space. He cannot recognise any other formula beyond the current one which he inherited from his father. Unfortunately, it seems in this confrontation, he may be the ultimate loser. So far the United Nations has not moved beyond cautioning him because the organisation has its hands full. The United States, however, has given al Assad a kiss of death. He has been told that he no longer has any moral authority to remain in power. While the people’s revolt tagged the Arab Spring has seemingly become the Arab Hell in Syria and Libya, the lesson for all dictators everywhere is that the people deserve a voice in the choice of who rules them. Those African dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe have better beware. The African Spring may not be long in coming.