Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was the beautiful wife of the late business mogul and respected politician, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. She was very active and socially conscious during her days. The tireless support she gave to her husband, M.K.O Abiola, when he was incarcerated pulled the string of her death. On the 4th of June, 1996, Kudirat Abiola was assassinated by some gunmen in Lagos allegedly on the orders of the Sani Abacha military junta.
After President Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 12, 1993 election which declared M.K.O as the new democratic president of Nigeria, several riots sparked throughout the country, especially the Western Region. The winner of the annulled election, M.K.O Abiola, seeing his right denied, declared himself as the President which led to his arrest; he was convicted on the charges of treason and felony. This was during the military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha. The concerted effort Kudirat Abiola made to get her husband out of jail and also to get him his mandate brought her across the line of the military government. In 1994, Kudirat Abiola spearheaded an oil workers strike against the government which lasted for 12 months. She also gathered market women, students and civil servants to fight for their electoral right which was denied on June 12, 1993. Unknowing to Kudirat Abiola, she had been marked for elimination.
On June 4, 1996, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was driven in a white Mercedes Benz V-Boot by her driver and accompanied by her (Kudirat) special assistant, Lateef Shofolahan. It was around 3pm, the car was sailing the streets of Lagos; as the car slowed down around 7-Up Depot/Bus Stop in Ikeja, six heavily armed men emerged from a car and opened fire on Kudirat Abiola’s car. The range of the shooting was close and the driver got his mouth and shoulder pierced by a bullet, and Kudirat too, the main target, was hit in the forehead and instantly lost consciousness. She was rushed to the Highbrow Eko Hospital but eventually died. However, Kudirat’s personal assistant, Lateef Shofolahan, escaped the attack unhurt. He was later accused of being involved in the murder plot of Kudirat Abiola. Oldnaija.com gathered that prior to Alhaja Kudirat’s murder, there were two attempts to take her life before the plotters allegedly penetrated her through Lateef Shofolahan, her personal assistant. The Abacha government that allegedly killed Kudirat Abiola offered the sum of $45,000 to anyone who could give information leading to the arrest of the assassins.
Later, Hamza Al-Mustapha, the chief security officer of General Sani Abacha, was accused and convicted of his involvement in Kudirat Abiola’s death. Investigations into the killing traced the killer bullet to his (Hamza Al-Mustapha) personal amoury. In October 1988, Hamza Al-Mustapha and Mohammed Abacha, Gen. Abacha’s son, appeared before the court, both charged with the death of Kudirat Abiola. In the court, Mohammed Abdul, one of the assassins, narrated how the Abiola’s network was penetrated through Lateef Shofolahan, and how Mohammed Abacha gave him and other assassins $10,000 to flee the country when Obasanjo’s government began investigation on Kudirat Abiola’s murder. He said, “I was then given a car key to a 504 saloon car. Sumaila Shuaibu was driving the 505 car while I drove the 504. We went to the National theatre where we met Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan (Kudirat Abiola’s P.A) who took us to Festac town where he pointed at one house. From there, we went to Surulere and then to Mr. James Danbaba’s house. Rabo Lawal asked from the security men if the CP was in, before he went inside and spent some time there. We then went back to Dodan Barracks. In the evening Alhaji Lateef came to meet us at Dodan Barracks and together we went to Victoria Island where Alhaji Lateef pointed a house to Rabo Lawal who was in the same car with him. From V.I. we went to Surulere and then to Igbosere Road. Alhaji Lateef then went inside one storey building on a street near Igbosere close to Sura market”.
Another member of the killer squad, Barnabas Jabila aka Seargent Rogers, confessed that he was acting on the orders of Hamza Al-Mustapha and that he (Hamza Al-Mustapha) gave the contract to kill Kudirat Abiola to Rabo Lawal, the head of the mobile police force at the presidential villa. He also said that they were provided weapons for the operation in the presence of Mohammed Abacha.
In May 2001, a Federal High Court in Abuja freed Mohammed Abacha on the ground that he was simply roped in on circumstantial evidence. Also, Hamza Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan who were sentenced to death by hanging on January 30 2012 were later freed on Friday, July 12, 2013 on the ground that there was not enough evidence to prove them guilty.
The assassination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola remain one of the unresolved top assassinations in Nigeria.
Thanks for reading. OldNaija
* OldNaija.com: Real Account Of The June 12 1993 Presidential Election [https://oldnaija.com/2016/12/21/june-12-1993-presidential-elections/]
* Kudirat Abiola’s murder: Appeal Court frees Mustapha, Shofolahan, Bartholomew Madokwe, 13 July 2013, VanguardNGR [Retrieved 7 June 2017] http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/kudirat-abiolas-murder-appeal-court-frees-mustapha-shofolahan/
* Kudirat Abiola, Wife Of Nigerian Opposition Leader, Murdered By Gunmen In Nigeria; JETMagazine; June 24, 1996; p. 40.
* Oldnaija.com: President Babangida’s Annulment Speech of June 12,1993 Presidential Election [https://oldnaija.com/2016/12/21/president-babangidas-annulment-speech-of-june-121993-presidential-election/]