Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) leader Henry Okah has been found guilty of terrorism charges by a Johannesburg Magistrate's Court in South Africa.
The sentence includes a life jail term. The sentence will be carried out on January 31st or February 1st. The judge however gave Okah room for mitigation.
Mr Okah is accused of masterminding two car bombings in Abuja on October 1 in 2010 in which 12 people were killed and 36 were injured. He was arrested in Johannesburg the following day.
The Presiding Judge Neels Claassen, said Mr Okah was found guilty on 13 counts ranging from conspiracy to commit terrorism to detonating explosives.
“I have come to the conclusion that the State proved beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused,” Judge Neels Claassen said when handing down judgment.“The evidence of all the accomplices that worked with him was not contradicted… I found that (Okah is the) leader, planner, funder, supplier… of car bombs used in Warri in March 2010 and on October 1, 2010.”
Claassen said Okah’s failure to testify meant evidence against him remained uncontested.
Okah was allegedly the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that claimed responsibility for the blasts.
He was charged with engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, who was first to give evidence at the opening of Okah’s trial said Okah was a “key figure in the Niger Delta struggle and the militants had a lot of respect for him”.
Okah denied involvement in the attacks and also denies being the leader of the group.
State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said justice had been done. The ruling showed South African and foreign law enforcement agencies could work together.
“There is no safe haven in South Africa.”
Abrahams said legislation provided for a minimum sentence of life imprisonment for Okah’s crimes.
After the guilty finding, Okah was taken to the court holding cells under heavy police guard.