The family of the late former Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, has expressed profound discontent with the prosecution of murder trials in Nigeria, urging the National Assembly to enact legal framework for seamless prosecution.
The family expressed this in a statement on Tuesday in remembrance of their son and brother, Zackari Muhammed, a 27-year-old finance graduate of the University of Canterbury in Kent, who was shot dead in Abuja on Aug. 13, 1993.
Dr Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, a daughter of the late general, made the family’s position known at the 30th anniversary of Zakari Muhammed’s untimely death, held in Lagos at the weekend.
Muhammed-Oyebode said, “Precisely three decades ago, the life of our cherished brother was cut short. Even though the perpetrators were positively identified, all efforts to prosecute the case failed during the preliminary investigation and arraignment phase.”
Recalling the distressing circumstances surrounding Zackari’s tragic demise, Muhammed-Oyebode, a legal practitioner criticised the management of the case.
She said: “The entire procedure was shrouded in confusion, and the ultimate conclusion was a glaring miscarriage of justice.
“To put a stop to similar development in the future, a legislation that protects the rights of victims, a law that reflects the spirit of our nation should be enacted for Nigerians.
“These legislative measures unequivocally secure the rights of victims across the spectrum of criminal cases. On a global scale, victims’ rights are recognised as an essential component of human rights.”
According to her, the establishment of such a legal framework will guarantee comprehensive protection for victims throughout the complex corridors of the criminal justice system.
She noted that the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for victims of crimes and abuse of power as early as 1985.
Muhammed-Oyebode: “The time has arrived for Nigeria to adopt a victim-centric legal paradigm.
“As we observe this solemn anniversary, we beseech our federal legislators to champion the passage of laws based on the principles of victims’ rights.”
Highlighting the repercussions of ignoring such legislation, Muhammed-Oyebode, said: “in the absence of this essential legal framework, unresolved crimes will continue to proliferate, fostering an environment conducive to unlawful killings and impunity.
“In cases where lives are unjustly taken, such as in murder cases, the rights of not only the immediate victim but also the secondary victims must be strengthened by providing them with the legal means to pursue justice and ensuring a fair trial.”