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High court orders hanging for hit men in political murder case

2/1/2012, 4:46 p.m.
Jan. 31 - Convicted killers of the activist wife of business mogul Chief Moshood Abiola...
High court orders hanging for hit men in political murder case

Jan. 31 - Convicted killers of the activist wife of business mogul Chief Moshood Abiola were sentenced to death this week in a long-delayed decision by Nigeria's high court.

Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was murdered 16 years ago in a gruesome murder orchestrated by an aide to the former military ruler Sani Abacha and a protocol officer of her husband as she was being driven to the U.S. embassy. The two major conspirators to her death, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lafeef Sofolahan, received the ultimate penalty at the Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere.

The Abiolas were a distinguished political family. MKO Abiola, a self-declared pan-Africanist, was the founder of over a dozen enterprises that included banks, ocean liners and a soccer club. He was President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Patron of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation and patron of the WEB du Bois Foundation, among others.

The Congressional Black Caucus hailed him "as a hero in the global pursuit to preserve the history and the legacy of the African diaspora."

MKO's successful run for the presidency was annulled by the military in June 1993, after which he was jailed by the Sani Abacha regime. This led Kudirat to take an active part in the pro-democracy movement, including a role in the freedom march in Lagos in 1995.

She was killed on June 4, 1996. The trial is said to be the longest in Nigerian history, spanning over 5 judges and the recantations of several witnesses. An appeal has already been filed by Major Al-Mustapha, according to the BBC.