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Monday, October 1, 2012

Henry Okah’s Trial Begins In South Africa

On a day that Nigeria is marking its 52nd independence anniversary, Henry Okah, the man suspected to have confined President Goodluck Jonathan to mark the ceremony indoors in Aso Villa, faces trial on terrorism charges in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Okah, from the same ethnic origin like Jonathan, was suspected to have masterminded two deadly bombing, two years ago, of the Eagle Square in Abuja, the venue of Nigeria’s independence rites, until 2010. Okah is facing trial in South Africa, where he has permanent residence, on charges that he orchestrated the twin car bombings which killed 12 people in Abuja on October 1, 2010. 

Okah, the presumed leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), also faces terrorism charges over two explosions in March 2010 in the southern Nigerian city of Warri, a major hub of the oil-rich Delta region. “It’s Okah’s first day of trial in the South Gauteng High Court today. The defence and prosecution teams are ready to proceed with the matter and a judge has been allocated,” his lawyer Tsietsi Majang said today. The case was last in court in January when lawyers had asked for more time to prepare their arguments. South Africa is trying Okah as part of its international obligations because Nigerian authorities have not applied for his extradition, according to the prosecution. Okah has denied involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by MEND, and also denies being the leader of the group which is fighting for a greater share of the Delta region’s oil wealth.


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