I decided to react to Joe Igbokwe's attack on Major Al-Mustapha because I believe that in a civilized world, every accused person has a right to a fair trial in a court of law. Al-Mustapha is standing trial accused of many crimes amongst which is ordering the murder of Kudirat Abiola-the fact that this case has been lingering for the past 12 years or so seems not to matter to individuals like Joe Igbokwe. From every indication, it appears that this man standing trial is being used as a scape-goat by some people who loathe his late boss, General Sani Abacha-even in death.

For the records, I find nothing appealing in the professional commitments of Major Mustaspha and I am no fan of his. However, my concern in this matter is borne out of a genuine concern for the plight of a fellow primate. Major Mustapha did not choose to serve as the Chief Security Officer to the most hated and vilified ruler of Nigeria-he was appointed based on, I suspect his competence as a military officer. General Abacha as the Head of State ran the most repressive regime in the history of our country and many citizens were brutally murdered, many citizens were jailed and tortured for daring to raise a dissenting voice, many unprintable atrocities were allegedly committed by his government. We are still reeling from the depressing effects of Abacha's misadventure. Mustapha may have deliberately contributed his quota as Abacha's CSO to the charade that was his boss's government. That is why he is facing trial.

Incidentally, after about 12years in jail, Major Al-Mustapha is finally in court to answer to the serious charges levelled against him by the State-I dare say that it may well appear that he is making a bold attempt at making the most of this opportunity. One would have expected decent men like Mr Joe Igbokwe to be excited at this turn of event which could be seen as an opportunity for us to know what actually happened during those dark days of Abacha's dictatorship. I had expected Joe Igbokwe to vilify a democracy that has kept Mustapha in jail for more than a decade without any conviction, I had expected to see Joe Igbokwe shed the toga of partisan politics and call for justice for everyone in this case. Lives were brutally cut short, minds were broken and shattered in Abacha's jail, the resources of a nation were looted silly by agents of the government and finally, the lone man remaining accused of being the master-minder in the whole saga is given the opportunity to defend himself against serious charges. Why not comment on serious issues at stake rather than call Al-Mustapha names that portray him as an evil primate?

It is barbaric to call a man standing trial before a judge "a notorious criminal and serial killer..." where is Mr Igbokwe's decency? Would it not be more decent to allow the courts to determine this man's culpability rather than condemn him before the conclusion of his trial? Is it not worrying that men and women that claim to be pro-democracy activist kept quiet at the apparent injustice being played out here; what manner of democracy will lock a man up for more than a decade while employing every sinister ploy to keep him in jail without finding him guilty? I may well be wrong, but I sincerely believe that there is more to Al-Mustapha's travails than meet the eyes. Why is Joe Igbokwe rather too quick to chuck the considered positions of notable Yoruba leaders like Fredrick Fasheun and Ganiyu Adams? For the records, these men argued for a deeper reflection on the allegations made by Major Al-Mustapha that notable Yoruba leaders were compromised during the struggle for the actualization of Abiola's June 12 mandate.

Major Al-Mustapha could well be guilty of all the charges against him, he could equally be a horrible conman as Joe Igbokwe would like us believe, but the crux of the matter is that the society will never take that lovely step towards progress if it dabbles into paying back evil with evil. All over the world, every attempt is being made to sniff out men and women that benefitted from crime, especially crime against humanity. Ours should not be different; Nigeria would be the better for it if the courts find Mustapha guilty and punish him accordingly or set him free if found innocent. Public commentators like Mr Igbokwe should join the campaign to investigate the claims being made by Mustapha-especially claims relating to the wanton and curious disbursement of our money by General Abdusalam Abubarkar.

It is beginning to appear as if Joe Igbokwe is too partisan to appreciate the nastiness of his outburst on Major Mustapha, it is also very apparent that he chooses whom to condemn. I make bold to say this because he once made a rather too comical attempt at turning Bola Tinubu into a saint-this is a man who to my knowledge, has loads of cases stacked against him, from certificate forgery to stealing of public funds. Of course, I would not want to rush to a conclusion in Senator Bola Tinubu's case but Igbokwe in his usual characteristics have done just that-Tinubu is a saint.

Let Major Al-Mustapha have his day in court, let him employ every imaginable antic to defend himself, allow him the luxury of finding his voice after more than a decade in detention- he is entitled to all that under a democracy. However, what we can be thrilled about in this whole saga is one thing; the truth must always prevail. As Africans, we believe that the spirit of the dead somehow find a way to visit those responsible for their death. May the spirit of those murdered under Abacha's regime find a way to rise up to this challenge; expose Al-Mustapha if he is lying or set him free to go home to his family.

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