Henry Okah Challenges His Prosecution, Trial In South Africa

Henry Okah

 

Convicted leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah on Tuesday appeared before a High Court in Pretoria, South Africa.

Looking a bit frail but in high spirits, Okah represented himself in court and challenged his prosecution and conviction.

He told the court that he is challenging his prosecution and conviction under South Africa’s anti-terror laws instead of under International Humanitarian Law under the International Criminal court Act.

He waded through a lot of legal documentation he speaks in an attempt to secure his freedom.

“I have the right to appear before this court, for this court to determine the lawfulness of my detention regardless of the final judgement,” Okah told the judge.

The judge eventually adjourned and reserved judgment for December 20, 2019.

Okah who is the plaintiff in this matter was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 24 years in jail for the 2010 bombings in Abuja and Warri which left about three people dead.

Henry Okah Loses Bid To Overturn Conviction

 

 

The leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) Henry Okah has lost his bid to challenge his conviction in South Africa for two separate bombing incidents that occurred in Warri and Abuja in 2010.

In November 2017, Okah challenged the trial and conviction at the South African Constitutional Court, in a last-ditch attempt to walk away as a free man.

According to him, it was not fair, based on the dictates of the South African Criminal Procedures Act.

But in a unanimous judgment on the two cases on Thursday, Justice Edwin Cameron ruled that the trial under the Anti-terrorism Act of South Africa was in line with the country’s international obligations.

Okah was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in 2013 on 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device in 2010.

On appeal, the sentence was later reduced to 20-years in 2016.

Henry Okah Challenges Conviction In South Africa

The self-acclaimed leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, Tuesday challenged his trial and conviction at the South African Constitutional Court, in a last-ditch attempt to walk away as a free man.

Mr Okah was sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment in 2013 after being convicted on 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device in 2010.

On appeal, the sentence was reduced to 20-years in 2016.

Today’s challenge at the Apex Court is claiming that his trial was not fair based on the dictates of the South African Criminal Procedures Act.

He is also questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-terrorism Act under which he was tried and convicted with regard to matters of jurisdiction.

SA Appeals Court Reserves Judgement On Henry Okah’s Case

Henry_OKahA panel of five justices of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal led by Justice Mahomed Navsa have reserved Judgement in the case brought by alleged leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah.

Okah, who is serving a 24-year jail term for terror related activities, had approached the Appeal Court to set his conviction and sentence aside, based on the claim that the Act, under which he was convicted, does not bestow a South African court with the jurisdiction to try him.

His counsel asserts that the definition of terrorism in the Act is too broad and as a result is in breach of the South African constitution, particularly with regards to the Bill of Rights.

Okah was appealing his jail term in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

He was convicted by the South Gautheng High Court in 2013 this stemming from his plotting a terror attack in Nigeria in
2010.

12 people were killed and 35 injured in car bomb in Abuja on October 1, 2010.

 

 

Prisons Deny Rumoured Death of Charles Okah

okahThe Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) had denied the rumoured death of the alleged mastermind of the October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing, Charles Okah.

This is contained in a press release by the Prisons Public Relations Officer, DCP Enobore Francis, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

The statement read, “This is to officially respond to numerous media enquiries over the rumoured death of Mr. Charles Okah in prison custody.

“We wish to categorically state and clarify that Mr. Charles Okah is not dead but alive, hale and hearty under the safe custody of the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS).

“The rumour has no iota of truth and therefore should be discountenanced.”

There were reports of a mild drama at the Federal High Court in Abuja as Mr Charles Okah threatened to end his trial when he attempted to take his life.

Okah, who is standing trial for terrorism, reportedly sought the permission of the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, to air his views over what he termed “endless trial”, due to his lawyer’s absence in court.

Charles Okah, who expressed frustration about the endless trial, ended his emotional statement after about five minutes, reached for a chair in the court and quickly moved towards a window but was overpowered by lawyers and other litigants who prevented him from breaking the louvers.

Independence Day Bombing: Okah Attempts Suicide In Court

okahThere was a mild drama at the Federal High Court in Abuja as the alleged mastermind of the October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing, Charles Okah, threatened to end his trial when he attempted to take his life.

Okah, who is standing trial for terrorism, sought the permission of the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, to air his views over what he termed “endless trial”, due to his lawyer’s absence in court.

Justice Kolawole obliged his request, and Okah said that he had been incarcerated for about five years now and he had a family to cater for.

He further said that his children would grow up without feeling the warmth of their father.

Charles Okah, who expressed frustration about the endless trial, ended his emotional statement after about five minutes, reached for a chair in the court and quickly moved towards a window.

He was, however, overpowered by lawyers and other litigants who prevented him from breaking the louvers.

Justice Kolawole consequently adjourned the suit till October 20, 2015 for continuation of trial.

Okah’s Trial: Court Orders Prosecution To Furnish Defence With Brief

charles_okahThe Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Federal Government to furnish Mr Charles Okah, Obi Nwabueze and their counsels all the necessary documents they intend to tender during their trial for the 2010 Independence Day bombing.

The order issued on Monday would allow the defence study the documents and decide which they would object to or otherwise.

According to the trial judge, Justice Kolawole, the order was in line with the new practice direction aimed at fast-tracking trials.

The case has been adjourned to 19 May for continuation of trial.

Mr Charles Okah and his co-accused, Obi Nwabueze are accused of complicity in the 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja which killed at least 10 persons and injured 10 others.

October 2010 Bombing: Trial Of Charles Okah Begins

charles_okahThe trial of Charles Okah, brother of the jailed leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and his co-accused, Kingsley Nwabueze accused of complicity in the 2010 Independence Day bombing, which killed at least a dozen people, has opened at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The trial which began on a rather dramatic note, started from inside the chambers of the court and continued outside the court premises where one of the exhibit of the prosecution, a Mazda car was tendered as one of the exhibits.

The trial is starting more than four years after the accused persons were brought to court

The exhibit keeper for the Department of State Services (DSS) tendered a list of 13 exhibits submitted to him by investigative officers.

The defence lawyers rejected the list, which according to them was prepared in July 2014, several years into the lifetime of the case, but were overruled by the judge.

The trial was to continue outside the courtroom, following an application by the prosecution that one of the evidence, a Mazda 626 with registration number, FKY 319 FKA could not be brought into the courtroom.

At the proceedings outside the courtroom, the prosecution tendered the vehicle as exhibit from the blast scene.

The trial was then moved back into the courtroom, where the other 11 exhibits, which include 10 camouflage bullet proof vests, 30 black military belts, 20 jungle booths, 34 water holsters, were tendered as evidence.

Others were two camp tents, several water bottles and assorted camp stands and hooks.

For the defense counsel, it is a good start for the trial, even though some of them expressed concern that the evidence listed as exhibits from the blast scene in Abuja, were said to have been brought from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

After the examination of the prosecution witness, the court adjourned to April 27, 2015 for continuation of trial.

I Am Mentally And Physically Fit To Face Trial – Charles Okah

charles_okahThe alleged mastermind of the October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing, Charles Okah, standing trial for alleged terrorism, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he is physically and mentally ready to face trial.

Okah told the court that with the improved condition of the Kuje Prisons, in Abuja, his health challenges that interrupted his trial at a time were over.

Okah also informed the court that he had suffered “gross violation of his fundamental human rights” since the case was instituted four years ago that, expressing confidence in the trial judge’s ability to dispense justice in the matter.

He said, “Contrary to the impression that the prosecution created for the court ‎to believe, I have not tried to delayed the trial.

“I want the trial to go on so that this evidence they have been talking about and the witnesses they said they have can be brought to court.

“I wanted them to come to court. I will want to know if they have been intimidated or bribed‎; I want to know if they are witnesses of truth.”

”Nobody is more desperate for the trial to go on more than those,” he added.

At the resumed hearing, the prosecuting counsel, Alex Izinyon (SAN) told the court that the matter was adjourned in order to enable the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria to put a legal representation for Okah, following the withdrawal of Mr Festus Keyamo who had been representing Okah since the suit was instituted.

While the counsel from the Legal Aid Council, Mr Sule Abdullah, told the court that the council needed to procure the record of proceedings and other necessary court processes to enable them prepare for the trial, he also told the court that he was only standing for the council as the case file was yet to be assigned to a lawyer, and therefore sought for a short date to enable them go through the file.

The matter which started in December 2010 had suffered series of adjournments with a bulk of the court sessions dedicated to hearing of Okah’s interlocutory applications relating to his mental fitness to stand trial.

Two others were initially charged along with Okah and Obi Nwabueze. One of them who chose to have his case tried separately was decided on January 2, 2013, while the other person died in custody.

Charles Okah, a brother to a former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, is being tried alongside Obi Nwabueze for the bomb attack near the Eagle Square in Abuja.

Henry had been tried and is already serving jail terms in South Africa.

Okah Was Procured To Assassinate Me – Jonathan

OkahThe Nigerian President dropped a bombshell on Thursday as he flagged off his presidential campaign in Lagos.

President Goodluck Jonathan told the huge crowd of party leaders, supporters and various groups in attendance that the convicted leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, was paid to assassinate him in 2010.

He was reacting to an alleged endorsement of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari by MEND, with newspaper reports suggesting that the group had dumped the President.

“The leader of MEND is one Okah, who is a South African prison.

“Okah is in a South African prison because 1st October 2010 when we were to celebrate our 50 years of independence, Okah was procured by some Nigerians to assassinate me and Okah bombed Abuja.

“The attempt was to assassinate me but intelligence investigation from the South African and Nigerian intelligence system roped him in that plan to assassinate me and they say MEND dumped Jonathan,” he said.

The President then asked his crowd of supporters, “Okah that wanted to assassinate Jonathan, will he support Jonathan?”

President Jonathan also accused some unidentified former leaders of not funding the military since the take-over of government by the military in 1983.

He equally replied his critics who accused him of not being firm, saying he cannot run a jungle government.

MEND Endorsement: Niger Delta People Are With Me, Jonathan Tells Buhari

MEND
President Goodluck Jonathan      (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

President Goodluck Jonathan has advised the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, not to “place any stock on MEND’s alleged endorsement” of his presidential ambition as the people of Niger-Delta remain behind him.

This is contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, on Thursday.

The statement read; “We have noted with amusement, the vituperations against President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the renegade faction of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) headed by the convicted terrorist, Henry Okah, in a statement issued to endorse the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

“While we thank all people of the Niger Delta, including the former militants whom MEND claims to represent who have already disassociated themselves from the statement issued by the faceless Jomo Gbomo and reaffirmed their unflinching support for President Jonathan’s re-election, we will like to state that the latest assault on the President by Henry Okah and his stooges did not come as a surprise to us at all.

“It was very much to be expected, coming as it did from an individual and group who have never hidden their vengeful personal animosity against the President and who have even gone to the extent of launching murderous assaults on venues at which the President was present on two occasions.

“It is most regrettable indeed that rather than show remorse for the terrorist acts against his fatherland for which he is now rightly serving a term of imprisonment in South Africa, Henry Okah continues to pursue a pointless personal vendetta against President Jonathan who continues to advance and protect the interests of the people of the Niger Delta which Okah and his group threatened with their misguided actions.

“The vituperations against President Jonathan in the MEND statement endorsing General Buhari are mischievous, baseless and deliberately styled to denigrate the good works of the President.

“It is well known that President Jonathan played a significant role in ending the militancy and insurgency in the Niger Delta.

“Under his watch, the destruction of oil facilities and the incessant kidnapping and killing of expatriates in the Niger Delta waterways have become a thing of the past.

“The attempt by Jomo Gbomo’s MEND to rewrite history by tarnishing the person of President Jonathan for selfish, pecuniary and political gains will amount to an exercise in futility.

“All patriotic and right-thinking Nigerians must consider an endorsement from a convicted criminal and his group who harbor evil intentions against the unity and progress of their country as a poisoned chalice.

“President Jonathan would never have accepted such an endorsement from terrorists and renegades.”

He concluded, “The President therefore advises General Buhari not to place any stock on his purported endorsement by the renegade faction of MEND which is led by a convicted and unrepentant terrorist with whom no leader who truly means well for Nigeria should be associated.”

South-Africa’s Supreme Court Adjourns Henry Okah’s Case Indefinitely

henry okahSouth Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has postponed indefinitely,  the appeal brought by convicted mend leader Henry Okah pending an amendment of his legal team’s argument on the matter  brought before the court. 

In accordance with the leave granted him to appeal by judge Neels Clawson of the South Gauteng High  Court in Johannesburg,  Mister Okah came questioning the jurisdiction of the court to hear and adjudicate counts 1 to 12 of the charges brought against him as well as the  conviction on count 13 related, to engaging in terrorist activities.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Betty Dibiah who was in court today reports that the panel of five judges led by Justice Naysa pointed out that in all the arguments and presentations of the appellant’s legal team, there has been no properly presented constitutional challenge of the relevant act 33 of 2004 which covers the protection of constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities.