What of Al-Mustafha Bamaiyi and Others?

Major Hamza Al-Mustafha

This is about morality, fairness, precedence and justice on criminal cases, no matter the ethnic backgrounds of those involved. Lately the judiciary has granted bails to suspects charged with treasonable felony. Some of the beneficiaries of judicial magnanimity included Ganiyu Adam and Frederick Fasehun of the Odua Progressive Congress (OPC) in the South-West, Asari Dokubo and Ateke Tom of militant Niger Delta groups in South-South and now Ralph Uwazuruike of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the South-eastern Nigeria. The only political detainees yet to be released after more than 8 years in cells are the security officers who served the Abacha regime and mostly from the Northern Nigeria.

Those security officers who were charged for attempted murder, an offence committed more than 10 years ago and yet to be released are the former chief of army staff, General Ishaya Bamayi; former Security Officer to Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha; former Commissioner of Police, Mr. James Danbaba; former military administrator Colonel Jubrin Bala Yakubu and former Chief Superintendent of Police, Mohammed Rabo Lawal. They were officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and whose actions, as security personnel, could have been officially sanctioned by the State through directives from their superiors. Probably, in the spirit of popular military parlance “obey-before-complain,” they could have been excessive and overzealous in their duties.

The charges against some of the ethnic militia, who have been hailed by some of their people, revolve around serious criminality like extortion, abduction, political gangsterism, treason, inciting secession, kidnapping, hostage-taking, killing and possession of sophisticated fire-arms in the name of struggles for self-actualization. They are so loved by their people that after their release, they have been accorded heroic reception, bestowed with chieftaincy titles and honour and in some cases hosted by the government for rendezvous even when their cases are yet to be dispensed with in the court.

While we keep on commending the judiciary for some of its actions so far, the pressure groups and the media play significant roles in persuading public perception, which by an extent could influence legal decisions with further evidence. It is noteworthy the political sagacity of members of legislature and executive arms from other geopolitical zones in the country who stoutly stand and defend their own even if they don’t believe in the approach of their wards. Unfortunately the Northerners are not sophisticated in the game of political lobbying, invention of pressure groups and deployment of aggressive media campaign to draw attention to the sorry plights of those officers.

Unlike other regions in the country that are associated with particular languages and religions, the Northern Nigeria is an amalgamation of different religions and languages beyond Hausa-Fulanis who cherish their cultural value and distinctive political heritage. For instance while Al-Mustafha and Rabo are Muslims, Bamaiyi and Danbaba are Christians.

While some Nigerians still believe in ethnic chauvinism, like the recent harshest criticisms over effort of Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi, a young undergraduate of Bayero University who was reported by foreign media for fabricating a helicopter, it is interesting to note that some patriotic Nigerians from other sections of the country, especially the detribalized Igbos recently mounted a campaign on the internet for the freedom of those detained officers. This is indeed a worthy cause that reinforces the uniqueness of Nigeria as an indivisible entity no matter our differences.

While President Yar’Adua may be cautious of intervention in the cases involving political detainees from his geopolitical zones, there is nothing wrong if the administration allows, not directs, its counsels (lawyers) in charge of the cases to toe the line of similar cases that give the militant leaders their freedom. No matter the offence of the Al-Mustafha, Bamaiyi, Danbaba and co, the unnecessary politicization of their cases gives a sinister impression in the minds of average Nigerians.

We should not deceive ourselves that the silence of the Northerners is a sign of satisfaction with the incarceration of their kith and kin, they believe in the total obedience to the rule of law. But a situation where the law has preferential disposition to some suspects on the basis of pressure from their people, it creates worrisome and agonizing feelings to others. Since the justification for the release of the militant ethnic leaders were for medical treatments and to mourn their families, most of the incarcerated security officers too have developed serious ailments, injuries and lost their beloved ones and therefore deserved to be set free. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

We cannot deny the callousness and atrocities committed by the ethinic militia in their struggles and also some of those security officers in their duties, we may need to forgive the past misdeed and work towards genuine reconciliation in promoting national unity. We must unite in the campaign for the freedom or amnesty for those security officers and all unjustly detained suspects on prolong trials even if our politicians, our legislators, our youths and our traditional rulers cannot make incessant noise to draw attention to their plights.

I feel pained having to make allusion to the North and South in this piece, but what could have been a better case for consideration of a concerned Nigerian over this seeming selective justice? Like my concerned Igbo brother, Hank Eso said: “Since they were arrested (Al-Mustafha and Co) they have essentially remained untried, un-sentenced, un-bailed, un-convicted, un-acquitted, and un-vindicated.”

While we commend concerned Nigerians for voicing out, my question to sectional jingoists is: Were we to come from other parts of the country can we stand by some of the parochial arguments and ethnic sentiments? I believe even among the devils, the lesser evil deserves some compassion.

This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in New Nigerian October 30, Weekly Trust November 3, Leadership November 5, Vanguard November 13, Triumph November13, Daily Sun November 14, Sunday Tribune November 18 and Thisday December 2, 2007

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Yushau Shuaib


  • The President should not intervene. However, in the case of Nigeria where everything is sanctioned from the top or it will not matter, the president should. I suggest the president’s approach be: If there is no credible evidence to formally charge the detainees they should be released for time already served. It is sad, when the judicial is at the mercy of the political class and the president is seen as ‘god’. It makes matters worse. Nigeria is a petty nation run by its leadership as fiefdom. Only 37 persons matter in the lives of 150m, and because Nigerians hero-worship and are the most ‘kiss up’ people when it comes to their leaders, what goes in Nigeria is acceptable and taken as normal. If not, why must the governors and president dictate the tone, which often is more of abuse than leadership. Until Nigerians wake up and start speaking up and asking tough questions, the present day songs and dance; praising worthless strides will never amount to making this lame and malfeasance nation emerge. While nations are seeking policies and agenda to run well for the common good, Nigerians seek persons to worship so they can remain backward and abused. Although I have no sympathy for military men that went over board in appeasing their wicked senior officers. I think their punishment would make sense if they are tried in a fair, just and equitable system. While officers must obey orders, nothing says they cannot resist or refuse. Mustapha was over zealous and thought that the nation belonged to him and his cohorts, and acted foolishly forgetting that someday, the sun sets. The same zeal they had running around and abusing their positions and powers, they could have used to counsel Abacha to tone down recklessness. But it may not surprise many, these men may have acted alone and not because the senior officer said they should. In a country where people obey authority just for the sake of it, it is no wonder Nigerians can be abused because there is hardly any recourse or concern for bad conduct. It is an animal kingdom where the strongest real or fake, get away with things. I often wonder, why such people do not use their power and position for common good? Instead, they get a rush being bad, mean and wicked. Engaging in wicked actions and programs. We must not forget that many families suffered as a result of the actions of these men, but at the same token, we must rise and begin to address some of these matters that keep nurturing hate and disconnect with the leadership. I suggest fans of these men appeal to the Senate Judicial Committee to act.

  • Let us expose the hypocricy of the political and military elite and compel EL-mustapha to spill more beans probably that would be when we have thev anticipated revolution

  • His recent disclosure that he knows those who kill abacha and Abiola and that former Head of state general abubakar abdulsalam his behind his incarceration call for serious scrutiny and he need further protection. It is reported that: Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, standing trial for the killing of the late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, opened his defence before a Lagos High Court, saying that he had both audio and video evidence on how Abacha and the late business mogul and politician, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, were allegedly murdered. Led in evidence by his lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the former CSO, who broke down in tears, accused the former Head of State, Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalami, of doing everything possible to keep him in prison indefinitely. He told the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, that Abdulsalami was living in fear that he (Al-Mustapha) would divulge information at his disposal, hence the resolve to keep him in prison. These allegations are too strong to be wipe under the carpet. Our prayers also is that no one should play foul game so that there wont be another death from tea cup

  • When are they going to release the over incarcerated Nigerian for God sake. Even if they need to adopt harshest punishment on him, the unnecessary delay in his detention is unbecoming and shameful to the Nigeria judiciary, the government and especially Northern leaders. We now call on the government o release him forthly.

  • It is said that justice delayed is justice denied.The verdict is coming late and this issues should be resolved politically. There no justification to draw an analogy between Al Mustapha’s case and that of militants. All the cases are different and we should try as much as possible to be objective in our writings and stop being emotive in our presentations of facts. If I were the president, I would just order Al Mustapha to carry his things and go home. We are Africans and we are known for FORGIVENESS.

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