At Last, Late Kudirat Abiola Gets Justice


Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the then eldest wife of late MKO Abiola, had before the advent of the June 12, 1993 elections, largely remained the unheard dutiful and beautiful wife of the late business mogul.
But Nigerians were to soon find that her nature clearly chimed with the presidential ambition of her husband, as she mounted the soap box campaigning and mobilising the women wing of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) to give her husband a rousing support. She travelled round the country, addressing women and garnering support for her husband. Her ability to speak Hausa and Yoruba made it largely easy for her to mobilise the Northern and South-western women. She set up several committees to enable her interface with various groups across the country. With courage and zeal, she held her forte dutifully and skillfully. And that explains why, all the way, even till the day of the June 12, 1993 election, she was by her husband, MKO, as they both went casting their votes.
It was thus with a sense of personal loss when the election was annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, then military president on June 23, 1993. That action lionised Kudirat, as she relentlessly condemned the annulment by granting sundry interviews to local and foreign media. After the arrest and detention of MKO,
Kudirat proved her organisational skills as she braced up to the challenge of sustaining the tempo of the struggle: the struggle to revalidate the annulled election. Holding meetings upon meeting many times into the wee hours of the next day, Kudirat proved her political mettle. She mobilised market women, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), NUPENG, students, activists and the human rights community, all to stoke the fire of the struggle. Her comments were like spikes on the skin of government. Undeterred by her delicate beauty and “√§jebo” niche, Kudirat literally went into the trenches, trying orthodox and unorthodox means of not only getting her husband released, but also assuming the mandate “freely given to him by 14 million Nigerians”.
Unfazed by the threats by government agents, she soldiered on with courage and determination, raising higher and higher, the flame of the struggle.
But one morning, the flame suffered a douse, when on June 4, 1996, some trained gunmen mowed her down at the 7-Up junction, just before her car would connect the express way that will take her to the US Embassy where she had an appointment. The bullets hit her right at her temple. All the efforts by the doctors at Eko Hospital to save her failed. She died.  It was a death that rankled the nation but fuelled the flames of the struggle for democracy. A democracy that eventually came on May 29, 1999.
Yesterday, the courts, after 13 years of judicial odyssey found and confirmed that Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Lateef Shofolahan (her Personal Assistant) were those who conspired to get her killed. The killers were yesterday sentenced to death by hanging. It must have been a reprieve for a spirit wailing for justice.
For the family, this may be the road to finding closure.
By Eddy Odivwri

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