CHILDREN of the late Kudirat Abiola have taken President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice in Abuja, demanding $10 million compensation for the unlawful assassination of their mother.
The suit, ECW/CCJ/ APP/62/2022, was filed on behalf of Khafila Abiola, Moriam Abiola and Hadi Abiola by their counsel, Femi Falana, demanding that Sergeant Barnabas Jebila (a.k.a. Rogers), Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako) and Aminu Mohammed be charged with murder for the killing of their mother in Lagos on June 4, 1996.
“The applicants aver that the late Mrs Kudirat Abiola was married to the late Chief MKO Abiola, a Nigerian and community citizen. Chief M.K.O Abiola contested and won the presidential election held in Nigeria on June 12, 1993. The election which was adjudged free and fair by local and international election observers was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta without any legal justification.
“Instead of relinquishing power to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the Ibrahim Babangida junta illegally installed an Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan on August 27, 1993. On November 10, 1993, the Lagos State High Court declared the ING illegal, null and void.
“On November 17, General Sani Abacha removed the illegal ING and declared himself the military head of state. In June 1994, Chief M.K.O. Abiola was arrested for announcing himself as the elected president of Nigeria on the basis of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by him.
“The Abacha military junta charged Chief M.K.O Abiola with treasonable felony and detained him in solitary confinement in an undisclosed detention centre for four years without trial. Chief Abiola’s wife, Mrs Kudirat Abiola, led a campaign for the unconditional release of her husband from illegal custody and inauguration as the elected president of Nigeria.”
In the suit, Falana said it was the pro-MKO campaign embarked upon by the late Kudirat Abiola that led to her assassination, as she was shot dead in her car at Oregun area in Lagos, Nigeria, by gunmen. The family stated that instead of finding the killers, the military government arrested some political allies and family members of Mrs Kudirat Abiola, detained them briefly and released them.
“During the sitting of the Oputa panel in Lagos on December 8, 2000, Sergeant Barnabas Jabila (a.k.a. Sergeant Rogers), a member of the killer squad set up by the Sani Abacha junta, confessed that he shot Mrs Kudirat Abiola dead and attempted to kill the late Senator Abraham Adesanya and Alex Ibru by shooting them on the instructions of the Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the chief security officer of General Sani Abacha, from November 1993 to June 1998.
“The evidence of Sergeant Rogers was not challenged by Major Al-Mustapha and his lawyers as they did not cross examine the witness because of the veracity of his evidence. A copy of the video tape of the oral testimony of Sergeant Rogers is hereby attached and marked Exhibit A.
“Major Al-Mustapha and some members of the killer squad were charged with conspiracy to murder and accessory after the fact to murder Mrs Kudirat Abiola at the Lagos High Court. At the end of the trial, the defendants were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Mrs Kudirat Abiola by the Lagos High Court.
“But the appeal filed by the convicts against the judgment of the Lagos High Court was allowed by the Court of Appeal which freed them on technical grounds.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria has granted leave to the Lagos State government to appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal and the appeal which has been filed is currently pending at the Supreme Court.”
The applicants averred that the killing of Mrs Abiola by the armed agents of the defendant is illegal and a violation of her human rights to life and dignity.
Among other reliefs, the applicants sought an order directing the defendant to charge Sergeant Barnabas Jebila (a.k.a. Rogers), Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako) and Aminu Mohammed with murder for the killing of Mrs Kudirat Abiola in Lagos on June 4, 1996 and directed the defendant to pay the sum of $10 million to the applicants as compensation for the unlawful killing of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
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