Lekan Abiola, the son of late Kudirat Abiola, speaks about his late father’s foray into politics and the Appeal Court judgment that set Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan free, in this interview with SATURDAY PUNCH.
How do you feel about the Appeal Court judgement that set Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Sofolahan free?
What happened today just reopened the wound. Those that confessed to killing her; Nigeria couldn’t find it within itself to hold them accountable for their crimes. There is a street named after my mother in New York City. If the US can recognise her struggle in Nigeria, why won’t her country get justice for her? My mother put her life on the line to get my father out, but they killed her.
What do you think about the country’s judicial system?
Justice is very slow in Nigeria. Nigeria ’s justice system can be easily manipulated and that is why with a good lawyer, you can delay and adjourn your case because the system is easily amenable to manipulations. That’s why even governors who have money to spend get their cases stalled and many of them will die and their cases will still not be resolved. Our justice system is a joke; imagine having people charged after about 12 years that my mother was killed. It takes that long to conclude a murder trial and the singular achievement, at the first test, it was overturned. That’s why Al-Mustapha was always smiling in court because he knew that nothing would happen to him. A lot of Nigerians are disappointed, but I commend the Lagos High Court judge that found them guilty. She gave a judgment of truth. The judges that overturned the judgment would also be disappointed in themselves.
Will the family pursue the matter or support a move to push the matter to the Supreme Court?
They (Supreme Court) will finally nail it because they started the hatchet job. Nobody should even bother to take the matter to the Supreme Court because the court will just reopen its old verdict when it said that Mohammed Abacha had no case to answer and just reprint it and change the date. No one remembers my parents’ contributions and sacrifice except for a few people. Most people have forgotten and this makes me really regret the whole exercise. I hope that Al-Mustapha enjoys the rest of his life and live to see his grandchildren that my mother couldn’t see before she was shot in the head. She has 18 grandchildren today, but she didn’t live to see any of them before she died.
Was your mother in support of MKO’s ambition to become Nigeria’s president?
Nobody in the family was in support of it. We were fine in the family; we were okay. We didn’t need it because we had a lot to lose and we didn’t have much to gain. Unfortunately, we’ve lost everything and gained nothing. What was there to gain even if he had become the president? Absolutely nothing. But once he decided to go ahead with it, the whole family had to support him, but initially, no one was in support.
Then, how did you react when you heard about your father’s ambition?
I remember that he came in his private jet to Washington DC and I went to meet him in the aircraft because he didn’t even get down. He told me he had come to inform me about his ambition to contest. I told him that God had already given him everything and that he didn’t need it. I told him that nobody would blame him for bad roads because he wasn’t the president, but once he became the president, people would blame him for everything. But he said that Nigeria was in a bad situation and that he wanted to help. Initially, nobody supported it in this house; what we were afraid of was what we have now.
Recently, Alhaji Mubasiru Abiola was quoted to have said that the family had been receiving support from former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Some members of the family debunked the claims, what is your take?
Maybe he was misquoted. Obviously, he had a relationship with IBB when my dad was alive and possibly, IBB has been supporting him personally, but not the family. So, maybe he was misquoted. Many of the family members were upset and disappointed due to the tension and the frustrations the way things have turned out. But we have decided that we won’t trade insults on the pages of the newspapers; it’s not helpful. He’s a wonderful person and he’s the leader of the family.
Would you want your dad to still contest today if he was alive?
We know we have serious issues in this country and may God help us to put things right. If my mum and dad had seen the future, they wouldn’t have gone ahead to do what they did. I regret that my parents had to sacrifice their lives for this country. I can’t sacrifice anything for this country; even my fingernails. Nigeria is not worth anybody’s blood. I pray that God will forgive my mother and I know that my mum and dad will definitely get justice; maybe not in Nigeria, but I’m sure that Allah will give them justice where they are. Allah will give them justice, forgiveness and paradise.