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THE COMET (Dec 16, 2001)

By Dada Aladelokun

THE Nigeria Council for National Awareness (NCNA) and Global Peace Movement (GPM), both non-governmental rights organisations, have advised the Federal Government to take another look into the continued trial of Major Al-Mustapha and his cohorts who served under the late General Sanni Abacha-led junta.

The groups accused the Federal Government of double standard by singling out the detainees for trial while others who committed more heinous atrocities walk free in the society as sacred cows.

In a release signed by Dr. Bayo Kumolu-Johnson, its secretary-general, NCNA said: "It amounts to double standard in the quest for justice if all the heinous crimes committed in Babangida, Abubakar and Abacha regimes could be forgiven and the culprits go scot-free and their alleged errand boys are now facing prosecution."

The release explained that Al-Mustapha and others were "responding loyally to orders as military and police officers," adding that "orders are orders in the military and police force."

NCNA also took swipe at the government for not bringing to book, killers of the late politician and business mogul, Bashorun Moshood Abiola believed to have won the June 12,1993 presidential election.

In his view, GPM's President-General, Mr. Mike Uyi, at a press conference held at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos, said Al-Mustapha and his accomplices had no business in custody.

Apart from echoing NCNA's views, Uyi accused the Federal Government of breeding and fueling injustice and ethnic distrust in the country.

According to Uyi: "We are not supporting Al-Mustapha and co? We are only against selected justice. Most of the big names indicted at Oputa Panel are free today while those who commit more grave atrocities from the western parts of the country are now being treated as sacred cows. This is bad.

"Despite all the allegations levelled against Babangida and others in his category, they remain untouchable and have shown us that they are above the law of Nigeria," Uyi said.

"The Global Peace Movement," he said, "makes this solemn call that justice should not be tribalised, ethnicised, become vindictive, a witch-hunter or an avenger of sectional, personal or tribal wrongs suffered in the past."

The GPM boss also blamed the crime wave in the country on the government's alleged neglect of the police saying: "An under-equipped and under-funded police cannot discharge its responsibility efficiently; you don't expect a hungry policeman to chase armed robbers who are even more armed, with bare hands."

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