Okah could walk free today

2010-10-14 13:08

Nigerian former militant leader Henry Okah could be a free man later today after the state’s failure to provide authorisation from the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court has heard.

“This matter should be struck off the roll,” Okah’s lawyer Rudi Krause told the court.

Magistrate Hein Louw found that the state failed to honour a requirement to provide a certificate from the NDPP.

The law requires that the prosecution should provide written authorisation from the NDPP before they can proceed.

“The certificate is only required when the accused pleads. The defence is arguing that prosecution is instituted when the charge sheet is done,” said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga.

Krause argued that due to the state’s failure to provide the necessary documents, the court should order Okah’s release.

However, prosecutor Shaun Abrahams opposed the motion.

“The state is aware of the fact that it needs authorisation from the NDPP, but in the interest of proper administration of justice, this case should stand down until 3pm.”

He added that the state would obtain the document before court resumed at 3pm.

There was a risk that Okah could be rearrested after the court ordered his release, said Abrahams.

Okah was facing serious allegations that did not only affect South Africa but the international community.

He was arrested in Johannesburg after a dual car bombing killed 12 people in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on October 1.

Okah was charged with engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing and detonating an explosive device.

Louw adjourned the court and would make a decision at 2pm.

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