Aide Denies Involvement In Kudirat’s Death

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Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, who is standing trial alongside the former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha, for allegedly conspiring to kill Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, has told a Lagos High Court that he never worked for the late Alhaja Abiola.

Opening his defence this morning, Shofolahan said he did not work directly with the late Chief MKO Abiola. Rather, he said he worked for Abiola’s presidential campaign organisation, ‘Hope ’93’.

Shofolahan, who claimed to be a Muslim, swore with the Holy Quran and described himself as an inmate of Kirikiri Prisons, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria.

While being led in evidence by the defence counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the accused said he was a beer distributor, an agent of Nigerian Breweries and Guinness before he joined ‘Hope 93’ in 1993. He confirmed that he worked under Dr. Jonathan Zwingina, head of the campaign organisation, as a protocol officer in charge of receiving visitors.

He said he was also saddled with the responsibility of distributing campaign materials such as caps and posters. He said he was number 22 in the hierarchy of leadership in the organisation.

He explained that when the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Abiola was annulled, he was paid off. Thereafter, he said he went back to his business at 12, Itire Road, Abeokuta Bus Stop, adding that the name of his business was September 10 Enterprises.

He disclosed that in 1998, he joined the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Campaign Organisation and was staying at Obasanjo’s Ota Farms.

Shofolahan said he knew Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and other wives of the late Chief Abiola like Alhaja Olabisi. He denied working for Alhaja Kudirat at different times. He also denied newspaper reports referring to him as personal assistant, driver, and protocol officer to Alhaja Abiola. He described them as lies.

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He explained that when he was arrested in 1999 and appeared before the Special Investigation Panel, SIP, headed by Mrs. Ojomo, there were video and audio recordings of his denial of all the allegations against him.

He added that he appealed passionately to the SIP to produce somebody from Abiola’s family who can identify him as one of their staff or they should take him to Lagos for Abiola’s family to identify him if he had worked for them before.

He said the content of the statement he wrote on 8 October, 1999 and was admitted as exhibit in the court contained lies dictated to him to write. He denied knowing Alhaji Seriki Shasha in Ibadan. He said the only Shasha he knew is that of Lagos.

The only statement he said was true in the statement is his age, and the address of his house, 116, Ojuelegba Road, Itire. He said he had never met Al-Mustapha before until the day the two million-man march for Abacha was staged in Abuja. He said some youths were recruited at Ojuelegba for the march.

Because he was a youth leader, he said he was elected to go to Abuja and identified Alhaji Muniru Banire and Tajudeen Akanni as those who also attended the Abuja rally, adding that he met Mohammmed Abdul, alias Katako and Barnabas Jabila, a.k.a. Sergeant Rogers during their interrogation in Abuja.

Shofolahan said he knew nothing about the death of Kudirat Abiola.

The presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Ayoola Dada, has adjourned the matter till 10 November for written addresses.

—Akin Kuponiyi

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