Two Nigerian women groups, Women Arise, and Kudirat Initiative for Development(KIND) on Friday celebrated the 25th year of the assassination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential elections, the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo2 Olawale Abiola, with a call for an end to the wanton destruction of lives and properties, and kidnappings presently going on across Nigeria.
Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was killed by security details of former military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha on June 4, 1996 as she struggled to revalidate the popular mandate given to her husband. She was killed around Seven-Up factory, Ikosi, Lagos on her way to Lagos to keep an appointment with the United States Ambassador, Walter Carrington.
Evidence before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos in the trial of the son of the dictator, Mohammed Abacha, Chief Security Officer(CSO), Major Am-Mustapha Hamza, former Lagos Police Chief, James Danbaba, and aide of Abiola, Lateef Shofolahan, CSP Mohammed Rabo-Lawal,and others later revealed that Kudirat murder was sponsored by the regime.
The man who pulled the trigger that killed her, Sgt Rogers Mshelia testified before the court how the assignment was carried out.
The case came up before Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun (now Justice of Supreme Court) where Abacha’s lawyer, Joseph Bodunrin Daudu SAN, made a no case submission to effect that his client had no case to answer. Justice Kekere-Ekun adjourned for her ruling only for Daudu to file an appeal, a situation that rendered the lower court impotent. The Court of Appeal in its ruling ordered that the matter should go on trial. Daudu proceeded to the Supreme Court where Mohammed Abacha was later released without been allowed to go through trial. A Justice of the Apex Court, the late Justice Olufemi Akintola Ejiwunmi in a dissent judgment referred to court judgment as “tyranny of the majority”, saying that since a prima facie case was established against Abacha, he should have been subjected to trial to determine his culpability. The Apex court later ruled that its judgment should not be cited as a precedent.
The name of Abacha was struck out but the trial continued till 2011 when Justice Mojisola Dada sentenced Major Mustapha, former Lagos Commissioner of Police, James Danbaba, Lateef Shofolahan to terms of imprisonment. CSP Mohammed Rabo Lawal was released on the basis of his no case submission. The court of Appeal later upturned the decision of the lower court on because the star witness, Sgt Rogers Mshelia recanted on the evidence he earlier gave before the court.
The culprits that killed Kudirat Abiola were never brought to justice till this day. The prosecutor, Prof Yemi Osinbajo SAN (now Vice President) was on the case for nearly eight years as the Attorney General of Lagos State.
In a joint statement signed by Dr Joe Okei Odumakin and Dr. Hafsat Abiola – Costello, President, KIND(Kudirat’s daughter), the groups described Kudirat as a “fierce fighter for justice, an epitome of commitment, a symbol of spousal love and a paragon of beauty”.
Below is a text of the statement:
Kudirat Abiola: FRESH AS EVER … 25 Years After
How time flies! Today marks 25 years since the assassination of Kudirat Abiola. It was like yesterday! Yet, with the passage of time, the needs and demands that drove Nigeria’s movement for democracy have only grown more urgent.
Kudirat, a fierce fighter for justice, an epitome of commitment, a symbol of spousal love and paragon of African beauty, was murdered by Nigeria’s military junta. She waxes strong in memoriam while the tyrants who ordered her death fade into obscurity.
Kudirat’s spirit lives on, preaching justice, fairness and freedom as she spoke and stood for these ideals while she walked the earth. She went into battle for the sake of love, principles and liberty.
Today as we fondly remember this heroine, her standard soars against base projection of power, wanton destruction, killings, kidnappings and nationwide insecurity. Human lives must be valued. Our hearts again go to Leah Sharibu and the thousands of other captives all over the country.
We, therefore, fashion our demands in this spirit:
- Killings, kidnappings and other crimes must stop. Nigerians cannot be used as canon fodder in a proxy war with the government of Nigeria.
- The safe haven given instigators of violence within Nigeria by foreign governments must stop. We call upon Nigeria’s Diaspora to take up the challenge of engaging the governments of countries around the world to ensure that their policies align with the developmental goals of our country and the need for peace.
- Law enforcement must be given the wherewithal to fully discharge their responsibilities of maintaining law and order everywhere without bias; and officers who abuse their powers must be held to account.
- We – the people and decision-makers of Nigeria – must keep our eyes on the prize: establishing a system that delivers for all Nigerians.
- Effective governance is the only way. All efforts must be directed towards ensuring that resources get to the people; and are not hoarded by those meant to serve them or stolen by private entities who use loopholes to deprive the country of much needed developmental resources.
- In essence, we demand economic empowerment for the poor masses as the most meaningful dividend of a people’s democracy. Justice must replace injustice. Opportunity must replace desperation.
We remain committed to the defense of the rights of Nigerians to a democracy that can take on poverty, as was intended by martyrs like Kudirat Abiola and her husband, M.K.O. Abiola, and the many activists whose lives were lost in the struggle.
In their honour, we hold the line. In surges and storms, we will not yield. In their spirit, we shall live to deliver a heritage of good governance, as it was intended by those who handed the baton to us.
Rest on, Kudirat. Your imprint remains indelible on the sands of time.
Signed:Signed Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin President, Women Arise
Dr. Hafsat Abiola – Costello, President, KIND.