The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, MohammedAdoke, SAN, on Thursdaysaid he could not interfere in the case involving Major Hamza al-Mustapha, the Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan, a former Personal Assistant to Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, were sentenced to death on January 30, 2012, by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court over the murder of Kudirat, wife of the late Chief Moshood Abiola.
The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has reserved judgment in an appeal filed by al-Mustapha and Shofolahan.
However, responding to a question during the 2013 Ministerial Platform at the National Press Centre in Abuja, Adoke said he could not interfere in al-Mustapha’s trial.
During the question and answer session, a member of the audience had noted that a group campaigning for al-Mustapha’s release had protested at theMinistry of Justice on several occasions without any response from the minister.
Responding, Adoke stressed that al-Mustapha’s case was sub judice.
But he also added that it was not within his powers to interfere in the former CSO’s trial.
Noting that the matter was currently before the Court of Appeal, the AGF said justice was on course.
He said, “Major Hamza al-Mustapha was tried, convicted and sentenced to death under the laws of Lagos State for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
“As it stands now, the matter is sub judice. It is not within the authority of the AGF but justice is taking its course.”
Reacting to another question on the implementation of capital punishment in the country, the AGF noted that most of the death sentences were passed under the laws of state governments.
He said due to the federal nature of the country’s Constitution, the Federal Government could not compel states to abolish death penalty.
Adoke said, “The global debate on death penalty has not metamorphosed into the abolition of death penalty in our laws. Most of the offences that attractdeath penalty are state offences, and as a federation, we (Federal Government) can’t compel states to abolish death penalty.
“We (states and the Federal Government) will continue to discuss, and at the appropriate time we hope the laws will be reviewed.”
Adoke said a panel – the Justice Sector Reform Committee – is currently working on plans to review the country’s criminal laws, most of which had been identified to be obsolete.
Commenting on the Federal Government’s refusal to apply for a review of the International Court of Justice judgment on the Bakassi Peninsula, which ceded the oil-rich territory to Cameroon, the AGF explained that facts raised by agitators, who wanted the government to apply for the review, did not constitute new facts.
He added that an application for a review would have failed, and would have also resulted in bad blood between Nigeria and Cameroun.